On Memorial Day Weekend 2013, Omaha’s renowned Joslyn Art Museum will throw open it’s doors to the the public for free. Not just for a day. Not just for the weekend. But, hopefully, forever.
“This step for Joslyn — for the city of Omaha and the state of Nebraska — is momentous,” Joslyn Art Museum executive director and CEO said in a statement to the media announcing the change in admission price. “Today, the course of the Museum is changed forever as we return to the vision of our founder, Sarah Joslyn. She gave Joslyn Art Museum to Omaha for the purpose of serving the entire community as an educational and cultural resource. Now, decades later, our mission remains to provide people with access to original works of art and the intellectual and emotional stimulation and inspiration they provide. The arts and human experience are intrinsically interconnected. When we engage a diverse audience in viewing, thinking and talking about art, we ensure that future generations are knowledgeable about the past, embrace multiple points of view, understand the complexity of the world we live in and harness the force of creativity.”
It is fitting that the Joslyn return to free general admission (the first admission fee was implemented in 1965 and has continued until today) on Memorial Day weekend. In 1931, when the facility first welcomed the public it was known as the Joslyn Memorial because Sarah gave it to the people of Omaha in memory of her late husband, George Joslyn. Further synergy for the timing can be found in the extension of Jennifer Stienkamp’s multi-channel, synchronized video work Madame Curie through June 6, 2013.
George Joslyn and his Castles
Lynhurst and Joslyn Art Museum are among the most notable and memorable structuress in Omaha. Looking at Lynhurst, it’s hard to believe the Josyln Castle (as locals call it) was once the private residence of George and Sarah Josyln. At the time of his death in 1916, George Joslyn was the wealthiest man in Nebraska (a title know held by fellow Omahan Warren Buffet) due, in large part to a virtual monopoly in the auxiliary printing business created by his Western Newspaper Union (WNU). A shrewd, some might say ruthless, businessman, Joslyn was recognized throughout the nation in part because WNU was the internet of its time providing preprinted news to thousands of newspapers across the U.S.
George Joslyn was also a much-admired philanthropist, something that is perhaps better remembered today due to Sarah’s efforts. Although George was any early supporter of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, not only providing financial support but also the building that housed the university until 1938, he is best remembered for the Josyln Art Museum. Sarah spent nearly $3 million in Depression-era funds to create the public arts and cultural facility that memorializes her husband to this day.
Jennifer Steinkamp and Madame Curie
Madame Curie is a 60-foot visual exhibition inspired by Jennifer Steinkamp’s research into atomic energy and explosions. The swirling intertwined flower blossoms drawn from the list of more than 40 flowering plants found in Curie’s biography explore the effects atomic explosions and atomic energy have on nature and engage the Art Deco space in fascinating and unexpected ways which is only fitting given that one of the hallmarks of Art Deco is a stylized approach to nature.
Marie Curie won two Nobel Prizes for her work creating the theory of radioactivity and adding to two previously unknown elements to the periodic table: radium and polonium. She died in 1934 just three years after the Joslyn Art Museum opened.
The Joslyn Art Museum’s presentation of Madame Curie is the first time the work has been displayed in three-channel format since it was commissioned by and installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, CA.
Admission is FREE
Beginning Saturday, May 25, 2013, general admission to the Joslyn Art Museum is free during all regular public hours. Admission to all special exhibitions will also be free throughout 2013.
Free General Admission to the Joslyn includes:
- All regular visits to the Museum’s permanent collection galleries, public spaces, cafe and shop during regular Museum hours (10 a.m. – 4 p.m on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays).
- All self-guided adult groups.
- All regularly scheduled docent-guided public tours (Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.; select other advertised dates and times).
- All school groups, whether self-guided or led by a docent.
- The sculpture garden and Discovery Garden.
- Parking in the Museum’s adjacent lot.
- Wi-fi service throughout the entire Museum.
- Educational outreach materials and in-Museum resources such as Art Packs and iPods
- A broad range of Museum events and programs including family days and lectures (except when advertised as fee-based programs).
- Select special exhibitions.
Joslyn Art Museum memberships will continue to be offered for a fee. The membership rates will not change during 2013, however members will discover a few significant additions and changes to member benefits at all levels including members-only opening weekends for select exhibits, select members-only days and deeper discounts on fee-based events and programs. Notably, membership to the Joslyn Art Museum has remained steady for the past decade at approximately 5,000 households.
On May 25, 2013 Omaha’s Joslyn Museum joins the Saint Louis Art Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO and more than one-third of art museums in America making their collections available for public viewing at no cost. The elimination of the Joslyn’s general admission fee is made possible by a grant from the Omaha-based Sherwood Foundation under the leadership of chairman Susan A. Buffett (she also served on the Joslyn board of governors from 1994 to 2005).
“Drawing the community in to a Museum that belongs to all of us, fostering civic pride, audience diversity, and regular interaction with art, is more important to its sustainability in the long run than charging people just to get in the door,” Becker concluded. “Joslyn is a key component in Omaha’s quality of place. The move to free admission reflects our commitment to a progressive and inclusive future at the cultural core of our city.”
You can visit the Joslyn Art Museum at:2200 Dodge Street Omaha, NE