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Museum of Nebraska Art closing its door for major renovations

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - A big renovation project was planned to start up at the Museum of Nebraska Art Nov. 1, 2021. The project includes some long-awaited upgrades and would extend the building by 23,000 square feet.

Executive director for the museum, Nicole Herden said MONA once used to be a post office and was celebrating its 110th year. She said the planned renovations were the most the museum would have ever seen.

The projects included adding in an event space, more galleries as well as revamping the parking lot and the sculpture garden.

Herden said, in addition to the many mechanical upgrades MONA had been needing for quite some time there were a few more items they were looking to access with the renovations.

“That in tandem with the desire to exhibit more of our permanent collection, have more on view, highlight more exhibitions from artists across the state,” she said. “And to really provide more amenities such as, visible storage, and actually seeing what is behind the scenes.”

Also planned for the project is putting in more greenery around the outside perimeter of the building.

Bob Culver, who had been involved with the MONA board of directors for 13 years, said there were reasons they chose the projects they did.

“One, it’s a long-time need and it’s going to be very exciting for the artists of Nebraska that know the community, the local community, the regional community, etc,” Culver said. “But also, I grew up out there so just a personal thing, seeing something happen like this in the tri-city area — very exciting.”

MONA was scheduled to be closed until fall 2023, but in the meantime, Herden said they had found some ways to keep the museum active.

“Increasing our outreach programs, making sure we get our permanent collection out throughout the state of Nebraska, travel them a little bit more and maybe even go beyond the boundaries of Nebraska, throughout the region. We want to explore more cultural partnerships and engage in different programming,” she said.

When the doors opened back up to the public, Culver expected a certain reaction from the public.

“WOW. Because it’s going to be a first class facility,” Culver said. “It’s going to … be a top rated kind of museum. I mean, we’ve got the expertise involved to make this a museum that could be in any city in the United States. And so, I think that wow factor will be huge.”

Overall construction costs for the project were around $25-million. Money from the renovations were raised through the Nebraska Marvels campaign.

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