Living in Kansas City means that we are in day-trip distance from a myriad of interesting destinations. When we are looking for another big city experience, one of our favorite haunts is Omaha, Nebraska. Being a mere three hours away makes this a good option for about eight hours of exploring. Of course, with a bevy of lodging options, the “Big O” has plenty to occupy multiple days. Our most recent visit was designed to partake in a wide range of sites including some artful travel to the Josyln Art Museum.
Artful Travel to Omaha
Walking up to the museum is quite a sight. The art deco design is amplified by the use of Georgia Pink marble for the exterior. It makes an impressive statement to visitors and locals alike. Opened in 1931, we found that the decorative panels on the outside pay homage to the native Indians who roamed these lands prior to the arrival of Europeans. Before heading inside, we wanted to enjoy a stroll through the outdoor sculpture garden.
Reminders of Home
Located on a little over an acre of space, the sculpture garden offers visitors some leisure time. It is also a great place to fill some time while you wait for your timed entry to arrive. This is obviously a COVID protocol and we are confident that there will be a time in the future when guests can drop by at any time the museum is open. As we explored this area, we came upon some familiar artists. Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Single was immediately recognizable, as we had made a recent visit to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in our hometown. Nearby, we spotted another piece that we found recognizable. Auguste Rodin is most noted for The Thinker, a copy is in Kansas City, but he has many more beautiful works. Our artful travel had brought us in front of this one in Omaha.
Artful Travel to Omaha
The time had come for our entry into the Joslyn so we made our way to the entrance. Once inside, we found the art deco design permeated the interior. This grand hall exudes the period and reminded us of many of the buildings and spaces in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We could hardly wait to explore more of the spaces.
By using a timed entry approach, the Joslyn Art Museum has made it possible for guests to enjoy a socially distanced experience. In each gallery, we found plenty of space to view the pieces without being in close proximity to strangers. The artwork is spaced out in a fashion that also lends itself to semi-seclusion. With people just beginning to venture out, this type of precaution helps make artful travel safer.
On this trip, our daughter Amanda had joined us for the day. While we enjoy traveling throughout North America, Amanda has a love for Europe. During her many visits to that region, she has developed a passion for European artists. I’ll say that I can enjoy these pieces, but like most, I have my own preferences. While the other two took in the artwork, I focused on my task of capturing images for the blog and our Instagram feed.
Entering one gallery, I found myself instantly recognizing some pieces on the wall. While the specific images weren’t immediately familiar, the style of the artists was obvious. The works of Thomas Hart Benton are easily spotted and we have seen them served up in a wide variety of locations. Each one holds me in awe, as I take in the colorful images. Just as recognizable are the works of Grant Wood. This Iowa artist captures rural life in a way that evokes nostalgia.
As much as Amanda likes European works, Crystal also has her favorites. It’s a sure bet that anything associated with fashion will capture her attention. When she spotted this work by Edgar Degas, her focus was on the fabric portion more than the bronze work. That is one of the great things about art. Everyone finds their own details that engross them and no one’s choice is wrong. Art is meant to be appreciated for all of its little details.
When we arrived in the wing that held the Native American works, it was time for me to see my favorites. My artful travel had been made with the anticipation of spotting some amazing beadwork. I can easily say I was not disappointed. Spotting this amazing case brought joy to my heart. I see art as a moment in time captured by the artist. Native American artwork will usually include some historical significance. This piece was dripping with history and I was enjoying every moment of it.
Old Meets New
While many of the pieces of native American beadwork are old, the art form has not died. The jacket was made in the mid-1800s and the beadwork looks as fresh as the day it was created. In contrast, the sneakers are obviously from a more recent time period, but nonetheless impressive. It is reassuring to see that there are still native artists keeping this skill alive.
In the Eye of the Beholder
Just down the hall, I spotted a large piece from an artist my age. Roxanne Swentzell shares the birth year with me but obviously has a great deal more artistic talent. I loved this piece that captures the playful spirit. It felt so alive that the pieces seemed to only be paused in a moment of frivolity.
While the Joslyn Art Museum has an impressive collection of permanent galleries, they also feature a rotating exhibit. During our visit, it was a large piece by Wendy Red Star. It included a massive collection of photographic pieces featuring Native Americans. Most were labeled with the name of the people in the photos. It was very impressive to think about the number of hours required to assemble such a collection. The dedication showed in the quality of the piece. With daylight burning, we found our time in Omaha drawing to an end. I knew that the ride home would be filled with recollections of a day full of artful travel.