Director's Message

There is no doubt that we experienced a European revival at the Museum this spring. It has been a whirlwind of opening days and celebratory events that so many in our community have supported with enthusiasm and appreciation. On May 20, visitors enjoyed first looks at the newly-reinstalled European galleries as they reopened following a three-month renovation period, led by Dana E. Cowen, Ph.D., Associate Curator of European Art. There is something new to see in each gallery, including four outstanding acquisitions, and the collection has never looked better, or told a more compelling story of the history of European art.

Just weeks later in early June, Joslyn opened Bijoux Parisiens: French Jewelry from the Petit Palais, Paris. A walk through French history and a dazzling treat for the eyes, it also happens to be Joslyn's first-ever exhibition of jewelry and our first exhibition from a Paris museum. The exhibition began in spectacular fashion with the Joslyn Art Museum Association (JAMA) Gala Preview on June 4, chaired by Mary Lou Brasee, Melanie Hecker, and Debbie Wood with honorary chairs Ellen and Stavely Wright. I extend my deepest thanks to our three outstanding chairs; Ellen and Stavely; the JAMA Gala Committee; our presenting sponsor, Gunderson's Jewelers; and JAMA President Brady Pape Gibson, for a stellar evening. Attended by over 400 guests, the Gala raised a record $387,875 for the Museum and its education programs.

Education programming at Joslyn encourages understanding and appreciation of the visual arts, fostering curiosity and creativity while connecting to the Museum's collections, exhibitions, building, and gardens. Through activities at the Museum and in the community, Joslyn continues to reach new and growing audiences. This is made possible by funds raised from the Gala and other giving this spring. During Omaha Gives! 2017, $16,260 was raised in support of World Refugee Day at Joslyn and the Museum's Art to Remember program for adults living with memory loss (page 20). In April, Wishbone, supporting Joslyn's Kent Bellows Mentoring Program, drew 368 people to the Museum, raising nearly $48,000 for this program that matches teen artists with professional artist mentors. This generous giving, including your annual membership in Joslyn, makes our daily work possible. Thank you!

The Museum has received a number of significant gifts of art and made several important acquisitions this year. In addition to four European paintings, a number of works (textile/sculpture, painting, photography) have entered the contemporary collection. When a work of art is purchased or gifted to a museum, it is something of a new beginning in the life of that object. It will go on to be viewed by thousands (or maybe even millions) of people. It may travel the globe, or take on new significance as its maker's career develops, or be interpreted in new ways by new audiences. Martin Puryear's Self is one such example. Crafted by Puryear in 1978, when he was in his mid-30s, the sculpture was acquired by Joslyn just two years later as an addition to the contemporary collection. Self is now recognized as a seminal work in wood by this American artist known for his use of organic materials and an outstanding example of Puryear's concern for the underlying forces that govern the formal geometries of abstract sculpture. In its continued "life beyond the purchase," Self is presently on loan at the Tate Modern in London for the exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. It will continue its journey with that exhibition next year, heading to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR) and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, before returning to Omaha. We will miss the sculpture's formidable presence in our museum, but are delighted to share it with the world.

See you in the galleries!


Jack Becker, Ph.D.
Executive Director & CEO