The Museum of Shadows – Omaha, Nebraska - Atlas Obscura

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The Museum of Shadows

Haunted dolls, macabre artifacts, and more make up the collection of the “most haunted museum in the world.” 

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We’ve all heard the bumps in the night. Strange sounds that have us questioning our senses. Was that the wind? A creaky floorboard? An animal outside? Usually, a quick flick of a light switch reveals that those shadows in the dark were just everyday objects. But sometimes those strange sounds, eerie, happenings, or creepy sense of not being alone, don’t have explanations—at least not good ones. Some places, some objects just carry a little more spooky weight than others. At the Museum of Shadows in Omaha, over 3,000 haunted objects have been carefully vetted and displayed in the museum’s massive two-level space.

Opened by husband and wife team Nate and Kaleigh Raterman, the museum only holds haunted items that have been verified by the Ratermans. As reported in Omaha Magazine in 2021, “The process includes general research, such as looking up crime records if the item was part of a murder. The two also use paranormal equipment that can detect electromagnetic disruptions (a few tools look like handheld radios of old, another looks like something used to find a stud in a wall). The two will also turn the cameras on the artifacts and determine if they moved on their own.” Visitors can catch glimpses of haunted dolls, medical artifacts, and Ouija boards, among other items, each one helping the museum to earn its title of the most haunted museum in the world. 

For Kaleigh, a psychic medium, crossing over to visit the spirit world has been a part of her life since she was a child, “For me, it’s all I ever knew,” she told Omaha Magazine. But belief came a bit slower for Nate. He was a self-described skeptic until a 2006 move into a house full of unexplained phenomena convinced him there was something beyond his understanding at work. Now both fully immersed in the ghost world, the couple began to collect haunted artifacts, a collection that became so large that in 2016, they realized they had enough to open a museum.

They’re still collecting, sometimes traveling to pick up unusual finds while other times the objects find them, as people mail in items that they suspect have something paranormal about them. With all of these haunted items in one place, visitors have often reported feeling the presence of something otherworldly. One visitor reported being scratched by an unseen hand, and others have seen doors opening by themselves and objects moving on their own. Some have also reported seeing ghosts, though these are generally referred to as “full-figure aberrations,” which include ghost sightings.

If the idea of walking through a museum full of haunted displays isn’t enough of a scare, the Ratermans also offer the Sit Challenge. Those brave folks who take on the challenge are led to the museum’s basement, where some of the more intense relics are housed. They are then given a flashlight with instructions to turn it on if they feel the need to “tap out.” The lights go off. For 10 minutes, it’s nothing but darkness (and maybe a few spirits). 

The Ratermans are serious about these ghostly happenings—Nate has another business helping people who are experiencing paranormal activities in their homes. But they recognize that the museum is a fun and unique addition to the city, telling CBS 2 Iowa, “People like to know that there is something else different that they can do and tour through that’s not like anything else they have seen before.”

Know Before You Go

Though the museum is all ages, it is recommended for mature audiences. Daytime tours are self-guided, and guided tours are available by reservation. Admission is $20.00 with an additional fee for the Sit Challenge. Paranormal equipment is available for rent. All touring the museum must sign a Waiver and Release of Liability.

This post is sponsored by Nebraska Tourism. Click here to learn more.

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