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.
All bases of wine production, procurement, and enjoyment are covered at the Great Dakota Wine Fest. Guests can practice age-old winemaking techniques by hopping into a barrel and stomping grapes or by stabbing each one with an empty quill. Then, upon entering the wine tasting room, they can grab a wine glass emblazoned with the Great Dakota Wine Fest logo and begin testing pours from various South Dakota winemakers, all while live performances from various musicians add melodious din to the spirited sipping and schmoozing.
The smells of hay and freshly picked apples mingle with the shouts of children on the annual Erie Shores Farm Tour. An organized event between four very different, yet equally welcoming, farm facilities, the self-guided tour encompasses fall foods and a range of harvest-themed activities. Hillcrest Orchards welcomes visitors with attractions such as hayrides, a corn maze, and pedal carts, while staff at Dostall Farms lead their guests on a guided tour of their humane meat-processing facility, where animals are fed only grass or corn. The event ends with a prize drawing at Matus Winery, where staff also give a guided tour of the wine-making facilities, including the giant barrel where the winemakers sleep every night. To ensure participants don't lose their ways, Erie Shores Farm Tour provides a complimentary map and suggested travel routes between locations.
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.