Ag Hall opens poultry museum
In November 1994 an optimistic group of poultry lovers gathered to dedicate the Hatchery Building at the National Agriculture Hall of Fame.
That was only the beginning of what would become a 15-year, painstaking process of raising funds and artifacts to pull together the group’s true vision.
Fifteen years later, some of the same members of that first group and some newcomers gathered Friday to dedicate the National Poultry Museum.
“This is quite a day. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Ag Hall executive director Tim Daugherty in his opening comments at the museum’s grand opening. “What we have tried to do is highlight key things that have taken place in the poultry industry from a backyard hobby to an industry that affects everyone today.”
Daugherty said that in addition to celebrating the museum’s opening Friday, everyone was gathered to celebrate the man who led the way. With Daugherty’s mention of Loyl Stromberg, the audience broke out in applause and gave a standing ovation as the aging Pine River, Minn., man made his way slowly to the lectern.
Stromberg said that in 1989, he and his wife traveled to Holland, where they visited the world’s first poultry museum.
“It was then I decided the U.S. should have one of these,” he said.
Stromberg returned home and began the process of scouting a location. Once the centrally-located Agriculture Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs was decided upon, Stromberg set to work on raising funds.
The first Hatchery Building was completed for $25,000, but Stromberg said it wasn’t enough. He continued his work for another 15 years, collecting donations for the museum, all without using a computer. Friday’s ceremony was a dream come true for Stromberg as he finally saw his vision come to life.
“Many, many, many people contributed to make this possible,” he said.
The Poultry Museum sits on the Ag Hall of Fame grounds and gives a more complete story of the poultry industry than the Hatchery Building did alone, said Ag Hall curator Kate Alexander.
“I just think the poultry industry is a lot more fascinating then people realize,” Alexander said. “It transformed from a simple backyard hobby to a billion dollar industry today, and it all happened in the last 100 years. It’s an amazing journey how quickly it all changed.”
Most of the artifacts in the museum, which include old incubators, chicken feeders and roll-away nesters, were donated by the Stromberg family. It was the Ag Hall’s job, Alexander said, to put the artifacts together in a way that told the story of the industry to the museum’s visitors.
While the new museum has only been open for a couple days, Alexander said the response has already made the 15 years of hard work worth it.
“It’s fun to go in there and hear people say things like they didn’t know you could tell the difference between a male and a female chick. It’s fun to listen to what people are learning and finding things out about chickens they never knew.”
The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. For information about the new poultry museum, call (913) 721-1075 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.