SHERIDAN — The Sheridan County Historical Society welcomed the newly appointed director of the Sheridan County Museum Thursday night. Ben Hruska started the job Oct. 15.
Hruska received his master’s degree in public history from Wichita State University in Kansas in 2004, and finished his doctorate degree in May of last year at Arizona State University. His previous experience as a curator and historian includes three years with the Block Island Historical Society in Rhode Island and a year working for the Department of Defense as an oral historian.
While Hruska has lived in locations around the United States and abroad, he said Sheridan fits the bill for his next adventure.
“I knew I wanted to come back West,” he said. “The East Coast was fun but I really enjoyed Arizona with the hunting and fishing, so I was definitely looking west of the Mississippi.”
Hruska, 37, expressed enthusiasm about the situation he’s inheriting.
“We have huge assets,” he said. “We have world-class, top-notch dioramas, especially the Battle of the Rosebud.
“A lot of historical societies are in buildings that are hundreds of years old,” he continued, indicating the building that houses Sheridan County’s artifacts is only about 15 years old.
Hruska said he hopes to find new ways to bring Sheridan’s local history to life for museum visitors.
“I want to bring a fresh face while keeping the integrity of what’s here,” he said, indicating he sees immediate potential to re-work approximately one-third of the museum’s floor space. “There’s room for improvement in terms of exhibit ideas and ways we can flesh them out.”
Hruska said he hopes to incorporate his past work experience in the restaurant industry to make a food-based exhibit. He also expressed interest in compiling more information about local toys and recreation in years past.
In addition to shouldering the responsibility of being the new curator at the museum, Hruska said he plans to write a book on the topic of his doctorate dissertation, which centers on historic aircraft carriers.
Hruska is replacing the museum’s previous director, Nathan Doerr, who took a job at the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne in June.
Hruska is the nephew of Joe and Dar Hruska, who have lived in Sheridan since 1978.