A Message to Our Community from Our Director

Joslyn Art Museum is celebrating ninety years in November. While it is easy to recognize the multitude of ways this institution has grown and changed since its beginning, I am also struck by what has remained the same (or come full circle). Joslyn remains a place for art and discussion, beloved by its community. General Museum admission is once more free to all, as it was for the first several decades. Our wonderful members and donors continue to sustain the Museum's work. And the legacy we leave is carefully considered as construction is underway again here at the corner of 24th and Dodge Streets. As Sarah Joslyn wished for her gift to the city to "go on and on," we too have approached this latest physical and programmatic growth with future generations in mind.

On July 27, at a ceremonial groundbreaking on the east side of the building, we unveiled the design for the Museum's expansion and renovation, led by international architectural firm Snøhetta in partnership with Omaha’s Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture. The new building will be named for Rhonda and Howard Hawks of The Hawks Foundation. Central to the 42,000-square-foot Rhonda and Howard Hawks Pavilion are abundant light-filled galleries designed to meet the demands of and explore the possibilities of a growing permanent collection, notably over fifty works from the nationally-renowned Phillip G. Schrager Collection of Contemporary Art.

Visitors will find new community spaces, additional classrooms, and enhanced amenities that support increased public programs. The site work includes a reorientation of the grounds around a reimagined point of public arrival anchored by an atrium named for Phillip G. Schrager. Please see the expansion special section on pages 4 and 5 for more details about the construction and renovation, and stay tuned for many more related announcements. I extend my deepest thanks to all who have devoted their time and talents to this monumental project.

As site preparation continues outside the Museum, there is much to explore inside the galleries. Joslyn announces the acquisition of Wendy Red Star's (Apsáalooke, born 1981) The Indian Congress, an installation with special connections to Joslyn and Omaha, created by Red Star for her Riley CAP Gallery exhibition earlier this year. Acquisition of The Indian Congress was made possible by gifts made in memory of Bruce Alan Simon.

In the Riley CAP Gallery, a 2020 video work by Israeli artist Guy Goldstein, filmed while he was in residence at Omaha's Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, is now on view. In late October, a special installation, Ninety Years of Joslyn Art Museum, offers a striking presentation of the history of the Museum's art, architecture, exhibitions, and programming. In November, an incredible body of work—a 2018 gift by Omaha-born artist Ed Ruscha—debuts in Gallery 17. One of the most anticipated exhibitions in recent memory is Faces from the Interior: The North American Portraits of Karl Bodmer—organized by Joslyn's Margre H. Durham Center for Western Studies, in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY). It is a rare opportunity to see over sixty of Bodmer's portraits at once, with generous insights provided by Indigenous knowledge bearers and descendants of the communities visited by the artist. These moving contributions, presented in wall labels, mobile tour stops, and a series of four mini documentaries, show not only the ongoing importance of Bodmer, but, more broadly, the cultural revitalization that is happening right now.

Amidst all of this exciting news, I must share one regrettable bit of news. I am sorry to announce that we have decided to cancel the November 6 90th Anniversary Gala Celebration, which was to have been held inside for nearly 500 guests. In the current COVID environment, we feel it is the right decision for the health and safety of our guests and staff. This decision was incredibly difficult to make, and I want to thank our honorary chairs, Cindy and Mogens Bay, and event chairs Kyle Robino and Kelly Thedinger, for all of their hard work on preparing for this event.

Be healthy and well, and we will see you in the galleries!


Jack F. Becker, Ph.D.
Executive Director & CEO