When 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. With the 58,000-square-foot 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 you enter one of the Douglas County Historical Society's buildings, don't be surprised if your skin turns sepia, because stepping inside is like stepping back in time. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization strives to collect, preserve, and share with the public all aspects of Douglas County history, including over six million paper-based artifacts in the Library Archives Center. Amongst the non-paper attractions is the General Crook House Museum: the authentically-restored 1879 home of General George Crook, features Victorian furnishings and heirloom gardens. Just north of the Crook House is the Library Archives Center, which is open to the public, and includes documents, newspapers, photographs, artifacts, and maps relating to the history of Douglas County and Omaha.
Trent Meyer and Derek Bergman are committed members of the United Methodist Church, and sometimes choose to practice their faith through tree climbing, zip lining, swimming, and laser tag. They direct the Methodist-run Camp Fontanelle, a year-round outdoor camp sprawled across more than 180 wooded acres of donated land. Both Trent and Derek draw from backgrounds as campers—and Trent from six years as a teacher—to lead summer camps for preschool through high-school students. They lead a team of camp counselors who coordinate harnessed-rope tree climbing, activities on low-ropes courses, archery lessons, and outdoor laser-tag matches.
They also draw visitors at different times of year with water slides, a 35'x65' jumping pillow and bounce houses, a petting barn filled with alpacas and goats, and pony rides. During the autumn-harvest season, they unveil the annual theme of a 10-acre corn maze filled with 5 miles of trails. A 3-acre pumpkin patch contains small and large carving pumpkins, gourds, mums, and Indian corn, which visitors can harvest and stuff into a large, horn-shaped wicker basket.
In 2000, a group of farmers decided to diversify their crop production by planting twirling wine grapes into the rolling Midwestern hills. The initial smattering of vines quickly grew into a 4-acre vineyard and led to the launch of Silver Hills Vineyards & Winery, a small operation intent on crafting 100% Nebraska wines. The vintners’ Midwestern pride can be seen in their choice of ingredients—all wines are made with fruit grown at local vineyards and tattooed with the state motto—as well as their choice of decor: the outdoor tasting deck is shaped like Nebraska.
Silver Hills produces red, white, rosé, and berry wines, which visitors can sample during the vineyards’ limited hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Bottle labels display woodcuts by John Schirmer, a resident of neighboring Iowa who has carved wood professionally for more than 35 years.
Angie Lewis never considered herself an artist. When she first began dabbling with paint, she found herself overwhelmed by choices. After fretting over what paintbrush to use and what brand of paint to buy, she eventually gave up and stuffed her art supplies—and her creativity—in the back of her closet.
They remained there until one day, while visiting friends in Denver, Angie attended an "entertainment-style" art class. It had music, wine, and a casual "it's OK to mess up" vibe, and Angie knew she just had to bring the concept home with her to Nebraska. And thus The Corky Canvas was born, a place where friends and artists of all skill levels gather with paintbrushes in one hand, and wine glasses in the other. At two Corky Canvas locations, Angie and her team of instructors lead groups through nightly featured painting, private parties, team buildings, and more. Painters are always welcome to change the colors of their class's suggested design, or to even paint something new entirely, following the whims of their creative spirits.
Abendmusik brings carefully curated musical programs to the elegant confines of the First-Plymouth Church, constructed to echo the styles of early basilica churches and the architectural traditions of Nebraska. A 16-sided carillon tower rises 171 feet above the prairie, welcoming visitors with the chiming of its 48 bells and the soft glow of its custom brick face. Installed in 1998, the monumental Lied Chancel organ's 6,000 pipes can resound with contrapuntal opulence or delicately accompany quiet choral pieces, muffling sounds with finely calibrated expression boxes and the shushing of specially appointed librarians.