When the Joslyn Art Museum opened in 1931, more than 25,000 people lined up to see the exhibits. It had taken three years of construction and $3 million to create the splendid art-deco building, which was inlaid with more than 38 types of marble imported from around the world. The force behind this enormous effort was philanthropist Sarah Joslyn, who had the building built in honor of her late husband. But instead of standing front and center, Sarah quietly mixed in with the crowd. "I am just one of the public," she said to people who recognized her.
Sarah truly viewed the museum as a gift to the people of Omaha. And for more than 80 years, they've cared for it like one. With the 58,000-square-foot addition addition of the Walter & Suzanne Scott Pavilion, a sculpture garden, and other enhancements, the museum has grown with time. Visitors today find more than 11,000 works of art inside, with collections and exhibitions that include pieces of ancient Greek pottery, Renaissance and Baroque paintings by Titian and El Greco, and Impressionist works by Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Claude Monet.
After admiring the peasant portraiture of 19th-century French realist Jules Breton, guests can cartwheel over to a collection of 18th- and 19th-century American artwork, which includes portraits by James Peale and landscape images by Thomas Cole. Pieces from the 20th century from artists such as Grant Wood transition visitors into viewings of more contemporary works or attempts to find a 3-D Magic Eye picture in Jackson Pollock's Galaxy.
When it was originally built as the Riviera in 1927, The Rose Theater played host to vaudeville skits, stage acts, and feature films in opulent surroundings of murals, oriental rugs, and a ceiling decorated with electric stars and clouds. However, the stock-market crash of 1929 forced the theater’s sale, bouncing it from owner to owner until Rose Blumkin and her family saved it from a giant wielding a wrecking ball as a mace. Renovated to its former glory, the theater is now a place where professional stage productions and drama courses give children the chance to enjoy and participate in the arts of the stage.
When a major flood hit the Missouri River in 2011, it drastically changed the riverfront, creating new sights across its banks. With this fresh face, the river serves as a scenic stage for tours on the River City Star, a riverboat featured in USA Today's August 2009 article “10 Great Places to Stream Through Cities”.
At the wheel of a classic, double-decker riverboat is one of River City Star's two captains, Captain Ken and Captain Steve. Accompanied by an expert crew, the captains ferry passengers over the serene waters that make up Omaha's riverfront. They pass by antique structures such as the historic Old Iowa-Nebraska Swing Bridge, and newer fixtures including the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge, described in USA Today as “a one-of-a-kind design that looks like an art installation across the river.”
On dinner cruises, cooks prepare a lineup of cuisine that changes monthly, as passengers dance to the sounds of live jazz or island music. Back on land, weddings unfold beneath a 40'x80' tent set up at Miller's Landing.