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As summer kicks off so to does new programming at the Hastings Museum.

The annual member celebration, 4-8 p.m. Thursday, marks the debut of the museum’s latest large-format film, DisneyNature’s “Penguins.” It is also the debut of the new exhibit “Coney Island Visions of an American Dreamland” and planetarium show “From Earth to the Universe.” The new programming is open to the public beginning Friday.

“People look for it every year,” Becky Tideman, Hastings Museum director of marketing, said about the member celebration. “They know we roll it out first to our members, but they know every year we’re going to roll out a new large format film, we’re going to bring in a new exhibit and we’re going to bring in a new planetarium show. Those are things we do throughout the year, but once in the summer we roll out three new things at once. This is that time. It really does freshen up the museum and give you some new options when you’re here and we really like that.”

While the member celebration is an exclusive event, memberships can be purchased at the museum leading up to the event, allowing participation.

“Coney Island Visions of an American Dreamland” brings to life the excitement of Coney Island, showing visitors how its magnetic world of attractions has become a touchstone for American mass culture and popular recreation.

Throughout the exhibition, artifacts display how the modern American mass-culture industry was born at Coney Island. The exhibition investigates the rise of American leisure and traces Coney Island’s influence on amusement parks and popular culture throughout the country. Photographs, ephemera, film clips, and hands-on interactives immerse visitors in the experience of Coney Island.

Due to a significant collections overhaul, the exhibit will be housed on second floor in area that was a storage room and recently received a new HVAC system instead of the typical east gallery.

“From Earth to the Universe,” is a 30-minute voyage through time and space that conveys, through a combination of sights and sounds, the Universe revealed by science.

Tideman said DisneyNature films such as “Penguins” do well at Hastings Museum. She said the films always have beautiful music and top-shelf narrators, in this case actor Ed Helms.

Also new this weekend, for Father’s Day, is the 40-minute “Dad Things” tour through the Hastings Museum, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are on sale now.

The tour provides the opportunity to learn about Hastings’ founding fathers, amazing animal dads and popular dad pastimes.

“There will be some dad jokes peppered through,” Tideman said.

“Dad Things” follows the museum’s “Dead Things” tour in October and “Dirty Things” tour in February.

“In a way this is a follow up to that in some ways,” Tideman said. “It’s just really kind of fun. There’s a lot of people anymore for these holidays, they don’t want to acquire, they don’t need a new Easter basket, they don’t need a new tie or golf club, all they really want is to spend time with family. I just think our team has done a great job.”

For more information, go to www.hastingsmuseum.org, or call 402-461-4629.

This article originally ran on hastingstribune.com.

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