With the doors to Union Station closed and locked there was, for a time, talk of demolishing the building. Wiser counsel prevailed and in 1973 Union Pacific Corporation donated Union Station to the City of Omaha.
In 1975 the Western Heritage Museum opened and operated in the existing facility until 1995. That year, Chuck and Margre Durham undertook to lead a major renovation of the structure that restored the current Suzzane and Walter Scott Great Hall to its original grandeur. In addition, mechanical systems, to include installation of air conditioning, were completely replaced, a new parking deck erected, and an area trackside covered over to allow for static display of Union Pacific rail cars.
With renovation complete, the facility was renamed the Durham Western Heritage Museum in 1997 in honor of the generosity of Chuck and Margre Durham. Since 1997 the facility has undergone continued upgrade and preservation.
In 2004 the 12,500 square foot Velde Gallery of American History opened. This facility, with its independent environmental system, was designed to respond to requirements associated with temporary exhibits from any national or international lender.
In 2007 the 4,500 square foot, 256 seat, Stanley and Dorothy Truhlsen Lecture Hall opened. This structure, housed in the old 1899 Union Station boiler plant, provides educational opportunities never before available to the museum. Distance learning, involving our national and private partners, will become common place in the years ahead.
Substantial capital conservation projects started in 2007 and under contract for 2008 guarantee the long term viability of this historic structure and ensure its place as a learning center for generations to come.
In 2008, the museum was renamed the Durham Museum to better reflect its offerings and acknowledge the unwavering support of the Durham family.