One question I have been asked frequently is if I had a favorite place that I visited on my 1,700 miles #DetourNebraska trip. While I am not sure that I had a favorite location, I definitely had a favorite experience. As I look back, the location was not even on my must-see list. But they opened at the right time, so I went ahead and visited. I am so glad that I stopped at the Petrified Wood Gallery.
While the petrified wood art is impressive and the pieces are artfully displayed, what made the experience remarkable was definitely the tour guide. Although I have been to so many museums, I have never visited one where the craftsman himself is the one giving the tour. You can see a glimpse of Harvey Kenfield in the mirror above. He was the one working at the Petrified Wood Gallery that day. He gave me a tour, and he even let me film part of his story.
The music boxes that he is referencing are on display near the front. What is fun is the mechanism for each box was chosen specifically to match the theme of the building. And they were cleverly chosen. “Old Rugged Cross” for one of the chapels.
This display was created in honor of a loved one. That personal touch is another aspect that makes the Petrified Wood Gallery a meaningful place to visit. This photograph allows you to have a closer glimpse to the detail involved in each project. All of the slats in this mill are individually cut with a special saw. Then it is meticulously assembled. The intricate detail is so amazing. Definitely makes sense that each piece takes two months to complete.
As petrified wood is basically fossilized wood, perhaps it is not surprising that the Kenfields have assembled other fossil collections as well. Not all of their finds are local. For years, they traveled to various shows to add to their displays.
Besides the petrified wood pieces, the gallery also contains polished rock eggs. Each sphere has been made out of a particular type of rock or mineral. This requires a different type of skill set and an infinite amount of patience.
Not surprisingly, one of my favorite displays is the case that contains several Nebraska symbols. Although the meadowlark and goldenrod have been painted into the display, the Nebraska Gemstone is authentic. They have several beautiful pieces of blue agate on display. I did not realize that our state gemstone was so beautiful.
The back room consists of a variety of Western art. Although the Kenfields did create the arrowhead art, other pieces are from other artists or collectors. Another picture of this back room is the one that I picked for the color section of my Detour Nebraska book.
The piece that greats you near the entrance/exit seems to leap to life. This bronze certainly tells a tale. With all of the adventure going on, the fact that the ride will be a long one is perfectly clear.
Before you visit …
If your schedule is flexible, I highly encourage you checking in advance so that you can visit on a day that one of the Kenfield brothers. Their presence makes the tour. I was doubly lucky the day that I visited. Harvey asked me if I would like to meet his brother. So I was able to interact with both Kenfields. When I finally left, I had tears in my eyes. What a blessing to get to meet these fine craftsman.
P.S. They both agreed to go on camera for me. While some of the story is slightly the same, I would love for you to watch this clip as well!