Byron Reed collection inspires signers exhibit

by the Durham Western Heritage Museum and Jill Carson, UNMC public affairs | March 26, 2007

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Thanks to a partnership with the Durham Western Heritage Museum, employees and students from UNMC, UNMC Physicians and The Nebraska Medical Center can view the Byron Reed Collection exhibit free with valid identification.
Described as one of the top three coin, document and numismatic book collections in the United States, the Byron Reed Collection is a treasure among the many exhibits on display at the Durham Western Heritage Museum.

And its contents, particularly autographs contained in the document collection, are what prompted museum staff to create another exhibit, "The Signers," on display from April 28 through Sept. 2.

Byron Reed was an important figure in early Omaha history. In 1856, Reed founded Nebraska's first real estate company.

"Signers" information
Click here to see more about "The Signers" exhibit at the Durham Western Heritage Museum.

His success and love of history enabled him the means to partake in his favorite pastime, the "gentleman's hobby" of coin collecting. From the 1850s until his death in 1891, Byron Reed gradually put together a stunning collection of coins, documents, books, maps and other items of great historical importance.

Upon his death in 1891, he left the entire collection to the City of Omaha, as well as money and land with which to build a new library to house the collection.

Coins in the collection include currency of ancient Rome and other realms of antiquity, colonial coins, barter coins from the Civil War and other significant eras of American history. The collection also includes the widely-acclaimed 1804 Dollar.

The document collection includes more than 800 autographs, including those of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and all other U.S. Presidents that served until Reed's death in 1891.

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This 1804 dollar is one of several treasures that can be viewed in the Byron Reed Collection at the Durham Western Heritage Museum.
Today, significant portions of the collection are on exhibit at the Durham Western Heritage Museum. Visitors are invited to marvel at this extraordinary collection much like Byron Reed did in his private Victorian library nearly 150 years ago.

Additional events complementing the museum's exhibits include a noon lecture on UNMC's campus on April 24. The lecture, titled "Medical Theory and Practice in the 18th & 19th Centuries, Presented by Thomas Jefferson" will be held in the Durham Research Center auditorium. Please contact Jill Carson at jlcarson@unmc.edu if you plan on attending.

As part of a partnership with the medical center and the museum, employees and students from UNMC, UNMC Physicians and The Nebraska Medical Center receive free admission to the museum year round with valid identification.