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MONA West

Museum of Nebraska Art Embarks on Exciting New Era

Museum to Close Nov. 1 for Transformative Restoration, Renovation & Expansion


KEARNEY, Neb. (Oct. 22, 2021)
– The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) is a Nebraska marvel as it is the only museum exclusively dedicated to telling the story of Nebraska through the art of Nebraska. MONA will close November 1, 2021 to embark on the most comprehensive restoration, renovation and expansion project in the museum’s history. A reimagined Museum of Nebraska Art, projected to open in 2023, will be a beacon for the visual arts for diverse audiences across Nebraska, throughout the country and around the world. The centerpiece of this transformation: a contemporary 23,000-square-foot expansion that will showcase imaginative exhibitions in light-filled, spacious galleries along with welcoming community spaces open to the public.

As the official home of the Nebraska Art Collection as established by the Nebraska Legislature in 1979, MONA’s permanent collection of nearly 6,000 works reflects nearly 200 years of history by artists with local, national or international acclaim. MONA celebrates Nebraska’s artistic culture and heritage by collecting and preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the art of Nebraska.

MONA is committed to making the experience of art more accessible and meaningful than ever, for all, and at a higher level than ever. The new design fulfills the museum’s vision of providing a welcoming and beautiful space for everyone who enters or passes through. The design advances the goals of expanded and enhanced art and public spaces, while increasing accessibility throughout the museum. Elements of the museum’s transformation include:

  • Welcoming new entrances allowing ease of access for visitors of all ages and abilities.
  • Additional galleries embracing new technology and allowing more extensive display of the museum’s permanent collection and special exhibitions.
  • A community studio stocked with supplies and tools for daily use and special programming.
  • A more expansive outdoor space featuring native Nebraska plants and foliage in addition to sculpture and dedicated areas for outdoor programming and events.
  • An expanded Gary E. Zaruba Library and Research Center will accommodate the growing collection of books, reference materials and ephemera.
  • A centrally located open commons area and Anne Thorne Weaver Museum Shop. The commons area will include amenities such as comfortable lounge seating and a coffee bar.
  • Increased square footage for artwork storage and exhibition preparation.
  • Fully updated mechanical systems, with special attention to collection safety.

“We are passionately committed to showcasing the Nebraska Art Collection. The need to expand, restore and renovate MONA’s current facilities to meet future needs has been evident for more than a decade,” said Tom Gallagher, newly elected president of the MONA Board of Directors. “A transformed MONA will be a source of discovery and delight through educational programming and events in addition to offering more inviting galleries, exhibits and indoor/outdoor public spaces.”

The MONA board has moved forward with a capital campaign to raise $25 million for the restoration, renovation and expansion, and an additional $5 million for an operating endowment to ensure relevant programming that pays attention to the needs of present and future patrons of all ages across Nebraska.

Gerry and Bruce Lauritzen, Honorary Campaign Co-Chairs for the Campaign for MONA and the Future of Nebraska Art, commented: “As stewards of the Nebraska Art Collection, MONA’s leadership has diversified the museum’s programming, expanded the collection and made art accessible to individuals across Nebraska through programs like ARTreach and Miles to MONA. The renovation, restoration and expansion of MONA will prepare the museum for the future — and the future of Nebraska art.”

During the construction period and leading up to MONA’s reopening, the museum staff will be relocated and expanded to offer innovative ways to stay connected to MONA and its collection through online and offsite initiatives. In addition, MONA will team with other cultural partners to offer programs.

“This exciting transformation of MONA will anchor this institution as an innovative and collaborative community partner. With new and improved spaces for visitors to gather and participate, the mission of MONA will be evident beyond simply our wonderful collection in even more spacious galleries. When the museum reopens, visitors will enjoy welcoming areas in and outside the museum, from natural light-filled lounge spaces inside the museum to outdoor terraces with seating among an enhanced sculpture garden and beautiful landscapes,” said Nicole Herden, executive director of MONA. “As we move forward, we will share museum updates regarding programming and project progress with communities across Nebraska.”

MONA’s ARTreach program will continue to provide exhibitions to various communities throughout Nebraska. Since 2000, over 350 ARTreach exhibitions have been sent to communities throughout the state.

About the Museum of Nebraska Art:
Opened in 1986, The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) houses the official art collection of the state of Nebraska. MONA’s permanent collection numbers nearly 6,000 works by artists of regional, national and international acclaim. MONA celebrates the history of Nebraska’s visual art for diverse audiences. It collects, preserves, researches, exhibits, and interprets the work of artists who were born, lived, trained, or worked in Nebraska or who created artworks that reflect the state’s culture. MONA endeavors to be the cultural center for Nebraska art and artists by providing quality exhibitions and programs, expanding its collection and facilities, and preserving its historic building. The museum is governed by a statewide board of directors in collaboration with representatives from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Museum updates are provided on the museum’s website: mona.unk.edu.


August 10, 2021

Masks are required for all visitors in all areas within the Museum regardless of vaccination status. Beginning August 10, 2021 the Museum will follow the Buffalo County Risk dial with the following considerations.
  • Green – Masks are not required
  • Yellow – Masks are strongly encouraged
  • Orange – Masks are required
  • Red – Masks are required
  • MONA retains the right to make adjustment to the mask policy, event capacity, and other guest control measures including cancelling any in-person events, in reasonable response to the Buffalo County Risk Assessment Dial.

You may follow the Risk Dial here: https://www.trphd.org/resources/district-risk-assessment.html


July 7, 2021

The Museum of Nebraska Art announces Gerry and Bruce Lauritzen as Honorary Co-Chairs to its restoration, renovation, expansion project.

Kearney, NE – The Museum of Nebraska Art is pleased to announce Gerry and Bruce Lauritzen of Omaha, NE as Honorary Co-Chairs of MONA’s “Nebraska Marvels” capital campaign to restore, renovate, and expand its current facility. The Lauritzens join Co-Chairs Galen and Marilyn Hadley of Kearney.

Plans call for an additional 23,000 square feet to accommodate the growing permanent collection, and to rejuvenate existing facilities plus add new amenities, such as outdoor green spaces, a community studio, and additional meeting spaces for Museum and public use.

In April of 2021 Governor Pete Ricketts signed budget legislation which includes an appropriation of $7.5 million from the FY 2021-2022 General Fund for the Museum of Nebraska Art to assist expanding and restoring/renovating its current facility. The bill, LB 141 was introduced by Nebraska State Senator John Stinner and co-signed by Kearney Senator John Lowe.

The appropriation to this program shall only be used to provide a dollar-for-dollar match of any private donation to the project. Funds from the bill will be used for the overall project and funneled back into the state’s economy via contracts with companies needed to design and build the project. “The MONA Board of Directors is appreciative of the support by the Nebraska Legislature and the Governor in providing support to the Museum of Nebraska Art for its planned expansion and renovation/restoration project,” said Marilyn Hadley, President of the MONA Board.

The support of the Legislature and Governor Pete Ricketts, who signed the budget legislation, underscores the fact that MONA is meant to be enjoyed by all Nebraska citizens and travelers to our state. It is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of Nebraska through the art of Nebraska.

MONA is governed by a statewide board of directors in collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Kearney.


May 6, 2021

Legislation Approved for MONA’s Restoration, Renovation & Expansion.

Governor Pete Ricketts signed budget legislation which includes an appropriation of $7.5 million from the FY 2021-2022 General Fund for the Museum of Nebraska Art to assist expanding and restoring/renovating its current facility. The bill, LB 141 was introduced by Nebraska State Senator John Stinner and co-signed by Kearney Senator John Lowe.

Established as the home of the official visual arts collection in the state by the Nebraska Legislature in 1979, MONA is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of Nebraska through the art of Nebraska.

The appropriation to this program shall only be used to provide a dollar-for-dollar match of any private donation to the project. Funds from the bill will be used for the overall project and funneled back into the state’s economy via contracts with companies needed to design and build the project.

“The MONA Board of Directors is appreciative of the support by the Nebraska Legislature and the Governor in providing support to the Museum of Nebraska Art for its planned expansion and renovation/restoration project,” said Marilyn Hadley, President of the MONA Board.

The necessity to expand, restore and renovate MONA’s current facility to meet future needs has been evident for more than a decade and was formally recognized in the MONA strategic plan 2015-2020. The strategic plan provided the impetus for an Expansion and Restoration/Renovation Project that has been under study for the past four years.

“We are positioning MONA to be the destination for not only Nebraska artists and collectors, but our local citizens and visitors to the region. We have carefully researched and planned for new programming that is relevant and pays attention to the needs of present and future patrons. Based on the programming needs, we are defining spaces that enhance the visitor experience,” said Nicole Herden, executive director of MONA.

The support of the Legislature and Governor Pete Ricketts, who signed the budget legislation on Monday April 26, underscores the fact that MONA is meant to be enjoyed by all Nebraska citizens and travelers to our state. It is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of Nebraska through the art of Nebraska.

MONA is governed by a statewide board of directors in collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Kearney.


January 6, 2021

MONA Plans for Major Restoration, Renovation & Expansion

The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) is embarking on a plan to restore, renovate and expand its facility as steward and home of the Nebraska Art Collection. Museum leadership has reimagined how MONA can be a source of discovery and delight through educational programming and events in addition to offering more inviting galleries, exhibits and indoor/outdoor public spaces.

“We are committed to our mission of being the home of the official visual arts collection of the state of Nebraska that was established by the Nebraska Legislature in 1979. MONA is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of Nebraska through the art of Nebraska,” said Marilyn Hadley, president of MONA’s board of directors. “Our plans call for adding more space to accommodate our growing collection, and to rejuvenate our facilities plus add new amenities, such as outdoor green spaces for the enjoyment of our citizens and visitors. We are proud to call Kearney home, and we are very grateful for the support over the years from the Kearney area community. We recently presented our plans to the Kearney Downtown Improvement Board, and we appreciated their very positive response to our plans to make the downtown area even more vibrant.”

“We are positioning MONA to be the destination for Nebraska artists and collectors as well as for our local citizens and visitors to the region. We have carefully researched and planned for new programming that is relevant and pays attention to the needs of present and future patrons. Based on the programming needs, we are defining space allocation to enhance the visitor experience,” said Nicole Herden, executive director of MONA.

Proposed plans include:

  • A modern gallery experience with new ways to increase the connection of the observer to the works of art;
  • A community studio that functions as a makerspace, stocked with supplies and tools for all visitors during open hours;
  • An enlarged outdoor sculpture garden with added green space for the enjoyment of citizens;
  • Community space both in and around the exterior museum for public gathering and enjoyment; inside event space to have ample storage and kitchen for group gatherings, accommodating up to 275 people;
  • New amenities including a café/coffee bar;
  • New spaces designed for flexibility to host large programs, performances, lectures, events and special activities.

“The need to expand, restore and renovate our current facility to meet future needs has been evident for more than a decade and was formally recognized in the MONA strategic plan 2015-2020,” said Hadley. “The strategic plan provided the impetus for an Expansion and Restoration/Renovation Project that has been under study for the past four years.”

MONA is housed in a 1911 former post office building that was purchased in 1986 and renovated twice, with the last renovation in 1993. The 1911 Neoclassical building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The plan is to restore and renovate MONA’s 25,000 square feet and construct a 16,000-square-foot expansion.

A feasibility study was completed in 2018 by fundraising consulting firm Ter Molen Watkins & Brandt. The fundraising consulting firm recommended that the MONA board move forward with planning a capital campaign to raise $20 million for expansion and restoration/renovation and to create a $5 million operating endowment. The MONA board of directors agreed with the recommendation and is in the early stages of fundraising.

Beginning in June 2019, museum leadership began working with Jon Maass, a New York-based architect, project director and owner’s representative, to undertake a comprehensive space programming process, researching and defining needs for a rejuvenated facility. Then in June 2020, it began working with Mark Bacon, AIA, and his Lincoln-based BVH Architecture team members who have created a conceptual design and are creating a more detailed schematic design based on the programming plan for the museum.

“We appreciate our partnership with the University of Nebraska at Kearney. We are grateful to several UNK professors who years ago were among the museum founders who established a system to collect artwork across Nebraska, which was the start of MONA,” said Hadley. “We thank our statewide board of directors who govern the museum in collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Kearney.”

The initial collection was about 30 artworks, which has grown to a permanent collection of more than 5,000 pieces. From works created by indigenous peoples of Nebraska more than 200 years ago to contemporary works, the expansion will allow visitors to experience its permanent collection in new ways. MONA’s signature ARTreach program brings traveling exhibits to various communities throughout Nebraska. The expansion of the museum will enable this crucial program to grow and enhance its ability to share the Nebraska Art Collection even more broadly.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the community and the state, and for the University of Nebraska at Kearney,” Chancellor Doug Kristensen said. “MONA is a treasure and its impact will be increased through this visionary project, which is being boldly led by the board and Nicole. More than ever, arts are being celebrated, and the state, region, country and the world will have greater opportunity to more fully engage with the art of Nebraska through this project.”

About the Museum of Nebraska Art:
Opened in 1986, The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) houses the official art collection of the state of Nebraska, which includes more than 5,000 pieces from Nebraska artists. MONA celebrates the history of Nebraska’s visual art for diverse audiences. It collects, preserves, researches, exhibits and interprets the work of artists who were born, lived, trained, or worked in Nebraska or who created artworks that reflect the state’s culture. With a total collection of more than 5,000 works, MONA endeavors to be the cultural center for Nebraska art and artists by providing quality exhibitions and programs, expanding its collection and facilities and preserving its historic building. The museum is governed by a statewide board of directors in collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

 


The Museum of Nebraska Art receives Humanities Nebraska CARES Act Grant

Funding for these grants is being provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan. Humanities Nebraska (HN) was allocated $435,600 in CARES Act funding and is re-granting 100% of these funds to cultural and educational organizations throughout Nebraska that are engaged in public humanities programming. These CARES Act emergency funds are providing critical assistance to Nebraska non-profit organizations in need of general operating support in order to continue humanities activities during the COVID-19 crisis.

“On behalf of the MONA Board of Directors,” said MONA Executive Director Nicole Herden, “I want to express our sincere gratitude for the valuable support of the NEH and HN during this challenging economic time. We also want to thank our Congressional and Senatorial representatives for their foresight in funding the CARES Act, as the arts and humanities nourish people’s minds and spirits during difficult periods, helping them stay connected to each other.”

To qualify for CARES Act funding, organizations must have demonstrated that a commitment to public humanities is a significant component of their mission. The NEH defines the humanities as including (but not limited to) history, literature, languages, jurisprudence, philosophy, comparative religion, archaeology, ethics, theory, criticism of the arts, and the social sciences when they employ humanistic perspectives. Organizations eligible for CARES ACT grants include: non-profits with 501(c) status, public institutions of higher education, state and local government agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments.