Temporary Closure

Following the guidelines of health authorities locally and nationally, and out of concern and care for everyone’s safety, the Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) in Kearney announces that it will be closed to the public beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020 with a reopening date to be determined.

During this time, all public programs and classes are postponed or cancelled, and if possible will be rescheduled at a later date.

While the Museum is closed, staff will be available on a limited basis. If you need assistance please contact the Museum at (308) 865-8559 or We sincerely appreciate your patience, understanding, and continued support at this time.

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.

The Museum of Nebraska Art announces Nicole Herden of Boise, Idaho, as its new Executive Director

Nicole Herden
Nicole Herden

Herden has managed curatorial and museum facilities projects for more than 10 years, including the past four as curator of art at Boise Art Museum, where she developed over a dozen exhibitions annually while expanding the permanent collection by nearly 500 works of art. She also served two years as registrar at BAM, which houses more than 4,000 objects.

“The mission of MONA and its phenomenal collection is an ideal fit with my background,” Herden said. “The historical and contemporary focus is of interest to me. A lot of things at MONA align with my scholarly interests as well as the professional museum work I’ve dedicated my career to.

“I’m excited about the museum’s relationship with UNK and all of the perspectives university faculty, students and staff can bring to MONA.”Herden was hired after a national search and replaces Audrey Kauders, who retired in June 2019 after 17 years at MONA. Marilyn Hadley, who served as interim director since July 1, will continue in that position until Herden’s March 30 start date.

“We are thrilled to hire someone with Nicole’s expertise, background and enthusiasm,” said Hadley, who was on the search committee and is current MONA board president. “Her background includes working in a museum with strong university relationships. She is someone who will take us to the next level with new ideas and different approaches, which the board welcomes.”

MONA opened in 1986 in Kearney and houses the official art collection of the state of Nebraska, which includes more than 5,000 pieces. The museum is governed by a statewide board of directors in collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Kearney. It collects, preserves, researches, exhibits and interprets the work of artists who were born, lived, trained or worked in Nebraska, or those who created artworks that reflect the culture of Nebraska.

“MONA is poised to develop deeper relationships across the state, have more community participation and share its American story,” Herden said. “I would like to expand artist advocacy and access of the permanent collection across the country. An immediate goal is to market the collection and showcase the treasure that it is.”

Herden’s career path includes work as curatorial assistant of American and Western American Art at Phoenix Art Museum and curatorial assistant of Contemporary Art at Arizona State University Art Museum. She also worked as an adjunct art professor and graduate teaching assistant at Boise State University, as well as a high school teacher in Arizona at Apache Junction School District.

Her professional affiliations include the American Alliance of Museums, Association of Art Museum Curators and College Art Association, among others. Herden has master’s degrees in art history and visual arts from Arizona State University and Boise State University, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree in art education from the University of Arizona.

“Nicole has great experience and expertise with art museums, and her ability to connect and build relationships within the art community really stood out,” said Bob Culver, co-chair of the search committee. “She has a grasp of what MONA’s collection is all about and our specific mission of supporting Nebraska art and artists.”

By TODD GOTTULA – UNK Communications