An Art Deco Gem

When the extraordinary Art Deco Joslyn Memorial (the name Joslyn Art Museum was adopted in 1987) opened its doors in 1931, it was hailed not only as an important addition to the city of Omaha, but to American modern architecture as well. In 1938 it was listed among the 100 finest buildings in America. Some 38 marbles from around the world are used in the interior design; construction took three years and cost almost $3 million. 

The Walter & Suzanne Scott Pavilion, a 58,000-square-foot addition built in 1994, was designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster, Lord Norman Foster of Thames Bank, as his first U.S. commission. His firm worked in affiliation with Omaha-based HDR, Inc., an architectural and engineering firm, and Kiewit Construction Company. The $15.95 million project included renovation of the original 1931 building.

Read on to learn about Joslyn Art Museum's architects, sculptor, poet, building materials, exterior and interior designs, and pavilion addition.

Joslyn Memorial Architects

The father-son team of John and Alan McDonald.

Memorial Building Exterior

Joslyn Art Museum stands as the McDonalds' masterpiece of the modern Art Deco style. The exterior sculpture was created by John David Brcin and Hartley Burr Alexander wrote the inscriptions for the building.

Memorial Building Interior

Beautiful marbles are used lavishly throughout the building.

Walter & Suzanne Scott Pavilion

A new wing that defers to the spirit of the original 1931 Memorial building design and takes its monumental simplicity several modernistic steps further.


Joslyn Art Museum has selected Snøhetta to lead a physical and programmatic expansion that will be transformative for the Museum, the city of Omaha, and Nebraska. Read more about the Museum's expansion and renovation project.