Celebrating Johnny Carson in Norfolk

Pure Nebraska
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 10:13 AM CST
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NORFOLK, Neb. (KOLN) - A new and improved interactive gallery at the Elkhorn Valley Museum is helping visitors re-discover the magic of Johnny Carson.

10/11 NOW caught up with museum director Libby McKay to talk more about the new Johnny Carson Gallery.

“Some of the upgrades we’ve done include trying to show more clips from the Tonight Show,” McKay said. “We also are working to showcase the special Johnny did when he came back to Norfolk in the early 80′s to visit his hometown. These clips are on kiosks now, and this allows people to find specific clips they might want to watch. In addition, we have a couch and a TV that looks like it’s from the 1960′s, and we are running segments of the Tonight Show there, and some of the old commercials are show as well, which is fun to see.”

“We have more photo opportunities in the upgraded gallery,” McKay said. “We have a opportunity for you to take a picture at Johnny’s desk, but you can also get a picture on the stage in front of the replica rainbow curtain with our wax figure of Johnny. You can do your own stand-up or monologue bit there. We also are able to exhibit more of Johnny’s artifacts, like his Emmys, his Kennedy Center award, and items from his early career.”

The gallery showcases the importance of Carson to the Norfolk community.

“He grew up here,” McKay said. “This is what he would have thought of as his hometown. He graduated from high school here, and he attended UNL. He has a huge connection to the region. He also did a ton of philanthropy for the area and Norfolk. When you see his name on the Johnny Carson Theater at the high school, the Johnny Carson Cancer Center, and the Johnny Carson Gallery, those are all supported through his philanthropic efforts.”

“We have a wide variety of age groups who come to view the Johnny Carson Gallery,” McKay said. “You have the people who grew up watching Johnny. You have the people who are inspired by Johnny to become comedians. Then, you have young kids who may only know his name from buildings in town. This gallery is a great way for kids to understand why his name is seen at the entrance to town, why his name is all over town, and why he is still relevant today.”