Nebraska may have a lot of small town charm, but it also has big-city venues featuring arts and cultural activities for the whole family. From the symphony and ballet to art galleries featuring history’s greatest artists, venues across the state provide a wealth of options for you to visit. Nebraska culture is certainly not to be underestimated.
The Carnegie Arts Center in Alliance is housed in a historic 1911 building and features local and regional artists. They regularly have installations with renowned artists such as Rembrandt and Albrecht Durer. Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum is known for its diverse collections of European, American and Native American art and is based out of a beautiful Art Deco building downtown constructed of 38 types of marble, which produce unique exterior that change shade right along with Nebraska weather. Both excellent places to view Nebraska culture at its finest.
Sheldon Museum of Art on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus houses nearly 13,000 pieces of art inside a modernist building that is itself a work of art. The collection includes 19th-century landscapes, American impressionism, abstract expressionism and contemporary art. Outside you can wander the expansive sculpture garden and witness 36 monumental sculptures. Also on campus is the Great Plains Art Museum whose collection includes paintings, bronze sculptures, drawings, photographs and other works depicting life in Nebraska and the surrounding Great Plains. You can stay on campus and wander over the International Quilt Study Center & Museum where the history of quilt making is both studied and admired. As you might imagine, Nebraska culture can be found quite easily, all you have to do is look.
For ballet and theater, there are multiple venues across the state of Nebraska. Ballet Nebraska offers such classics as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, as well as more contemporary performances throughout venues across the state. The Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center (a.k.a. The Rose Theater) in Omaha features two premium theatrical productions each season and other productions for adults, teens and pre-k children. The Columbus Art Gallery hosts both musical and theater performances as well as a visual arts gallery. Theater is king at the Omaha Community Playhouse, the largest community theater in the United States. Henry Fonda made his debut here in 1925, but a dozen more contemporary productions are now featured each year.
Omaha’s Holland Performing Arts Center is home to the Omaha Symphony, but it also sets its stage for a diverse lineup of national and internally acclaimed artists. The Holland is celebrated for its sleek architecture and modern urban look, and the acoustics are considered some of the finest in the United States. Lincoln also boasts a symphony orchestra, which dates back to the 1920s. Performances are at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, which also hosts concerts, ballet performances and musical theater. Music has played a major role in the shaping of Nebraska culture, something that is easily visible to this day.
For a taste of jazz, head to Love’s Jazz and Arts Center in Omaha, which honors Omaha legend Preston Love. Music and art intermingle in this homage to African American culture in Nebraska.
Historic examples of Nebraska culture include attractions like Dobby’s Frontier Town in Alliance, a historic village with 26 buildings from the 1890s through Prohibition, including a general store and meat market, mortuary, log cabin built by the area’s first black homesteader, early gas station, replica 1880s post office, saloon, 1889 one-room school and cobbler’s shop. Over in York, the Clayton Museum of Ancient History is a treasure that could be home in downtown New York City, but instead is on the campus of York College. This museum has authentic artifacts from Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization in the Middle East, between 3000 B.C. and 500 B.C.; an exhibit on Ancient Rome, including a rare helmet, tokens from the Coliseum and a replica siege machine, which looks like a catapult; and a reproduction of Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Whether you’re searching for authentic Nebraska culture or ancient world culture, Nebraska has you covered.