Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden
Situated between the Museum and Central High School on the east side, the Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden is 1.2 acres divided into distinct garden galleries, surrounded by a low, defining wall of Lake Superior Green granite with a honed surface that is smooth and reflective. The dramatic Sydney Cate Family Fountain Wall in memory of Betty G. Cate comprises 83 feet of this perimeter wall and features a dynamic flow of water that buffers noise from the surrounding urban environment.
The garden is named in honor of legendary Omaha builder Peter Kiewit and the private philanthropic trust he created at the time of his death in 1979, the Peter Kiewit Foundation. The Foundation awards grants in Omaha and across Nebraska and western Iowa. Mr. Kiewit served as a trustee of Joslyn Art Museum from 1959 to 1974. Coincidentally, it was his family's construction business which built Joslyn's Memorial Building in the late 1920s. The Peter Kiewit Foundation was formed in 1979 strictly from Mr. Kiewit's personal estate and is the product of his own design and direction. It is not connected legally or administratively in any way with the company which continues to carry his name.
A statue of a Sioux warrior on a rearing horse, proposed and modeled by Serbian-born sculptor John David Brcin (1899–1983) in the late 1920s for the entrance to the Joslyn Memorial (now Joslyn Art Museum), is the signature work of art in the Robert B. Daugherty Entry Plaza of the Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden. Omaha sculptor Matthew Placzek was commissioned to realize Brcin’s work. Fifteen feet high, the 5,000-pound bronze sculpture, titled Sioux Warrior, sits atop a six-foot base of concrete encased in Lake Superior Green granite to the east of the Joslyn building on axis with the Walter and Suzanne Scott Pavilion. The Art Deco-style horse and Indian rider face north toward Joslyn’s parking garden. The sculpture was cast and assembled at the Loveland Bronze Services foundry in Loveland, Colorado, and installed at Joslyn on October 20, 2008.
Running east west through the sculpture garden, on axis with the ConAgra Foods Atrium, is The Omaha Riverscape, an installation by American granite sculptor Jesús Moroles (born 1950) of Rockport, Texas. Central to the installation is the 118-foot long, 25-foot wide Charles and Mary Heider Reflecting Pool. The floor of the pool is a landscape sculpture in 50 tons of Academy Black granite — a topographical "map" of a section of the Missouri River and one of its tributaries, the Platte River. The pool fills and drains in continuous daily rotation to simulate the rise and fall of the river throughout the seasons.
Rising from the west end of the pool are three column fountains. Each eleven-foot tall, one and one-half foot square column is a different type of granite — Mountain Red, Carnelian, and Dakota Mahogany — with water bubbling from the top. Capping the pool on its east end is the Broken Earth water wall. Eight and one-half tons of Dakota Mahogany granite adhere to a concrete core 26 feet wide, and 12 feet tall, water flowing in a continuous cascade from its top.
Joslyn's installation is Moroles' first public commission in Nebraska.
Four outdoor galleries comprise the sculpture garden. Garden Gallery 1, east of the Museum's Scott Pavilion, is divided into smaller intimate spaces while the southernmost area of the garden, spanning the Memorial building's east side, features three distinct spaces: the Willis A. Strauss Family Garden Gallery; Garden Gallery III, a more open space on axis with the grand staircase; and Garden Gallery IV. Nine sculptures, plus the reflecting pool installation, are presently on view in these galleries.