A Message to Our Community from Our Director

The topping out rite is held when the last beam is set in place atop a new building during its construction. This ritual began in ancient Scandinavia, when builders would place a tree atop a new timber-frame structure—a practice believed to appease any forest-dwelling spirits displaced in its construction. The ritual extended to England and Northern Europe, and then around the world. In modern construction, topping out often involves steel not wood, as is the case with Joslyn's new Rhonda & Howard Hawks Pavilion. Still, the ancient ritual is honored with the attachment of a leafy branch or tree, along with flags or streamers, to the last beam as it is lowered into place. Below is a photograph of the recent topping out of Joslyn's expansion—note the small evergreen tree placed at the very center of the beam. That final steel beam bears the signatures of the construction project team, Museum leadership, and Museum staff. My thanks to everyone involved in the accomplishment of this major milestone.

I am proud to announce that Joslyn Art Museum has been awarded a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation's American Art Program to participate in its second cohort of the Museum Partnerships for Social Justice initiative (MPSJ). Launched in September 2021, the effort supports art museums as they explore, develop, and ultimately disseminate anti-racist project models and implementation frameworks for use across the field. Joslyn will be in dialogue throughout the eighteen-month grant period with our MPSJ partner, Minneapolis Institute of Art, as we work to engage Indigenous communities to present the complex histories and significance of Native art in just and meaningful ways. We are very much looking forward to this close collaboration with colleagues and further engagement in our community as we do this work.

I am delighted to share that Joslyn is an inaugural member of the Art Bridges Collection Loan Partnership. One of four selected lenders, Joslyn has traveled fifty works of art from its American, American Western, and Postwar & Contemporary collections to four institutions across the country. This is an outstanding opportunity to add to the enrichment of museum audiences from Iowa to Maine by sharing selections from our galleries—works that would otherwise be in storage at this time due to our closure.

Our collection continues to grow through gift and purchase this year. I invite you to read about our latest acquisitions, spanning over 275 years of artistic expression. And do not miss our Joslyn Around Town programming. From trivia night to poetry, music to panel discussions, and plenty of art-making opportunities, our off-site engagement brings Joslyn to you.

Continue to follow Joslyn on social media @joslynartmuseum for updates during closure. See you around town!

Jack Becker
Executive Director & CEO


Construction photo courtesy Iron Workers Local 21