KEARNEY – The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) will close Nov. 1 to embark on the most comprehensive restoration, renovation and expansion project in the museum’s history.
A reimagined MONA, projected to open in 2023, will be a beacon for the visual arts for diverse audiences across Nebraska, throughout the country and around the world. The centerpiece of this transformation is a contemporary 23,000-square-foot expansion that will showcase imaginative exhibitions in light-filled, spacious galleries along with welcoming community spaces open to the public.
As the official home of the Nebraska Art Collection as established by the Nebraska Legislature in 1979, MONA’s permanent collection of nearly 6,000 works reflects nearly 200 years of history by artists with local, national or international acclaim. Located at 2401 Central Ave. in downtown Kearney, MONA celebrates Nebraska’s artistic culture and heritage by collecting and preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the art of Nebraska.
MONA is committed to making the experience of art more accessible and meaningful than ever, for all, and at a higher level than ever. The new design fulfills the museum’s vision of providing a welcoming and beautiful space for everyone who enters or passes through. The design advances the goals of expanded and enhanced art and public spaces, while increasing accessibility throughout the museum. Elements of the museum’s transformation include:
- Welcoming new entrances allowing ease of access for visitors of all ages and abilities.
- Additional galleries embracing new technology and allowing more extensive display of the museum’s permanent collection and special exhibitions.
- A community studio stocked with supplies and tools for daily use and special programming.
- A more expansive outdoor space featuring native Nebraska plants and foliage in addition to sculpture and dedicated areas for outdoor programming and events.
- An expanded Gary E. Zaruba Library and Research Center that will accommodate the growing collection of books, reference materials and ephemera.
- A centrally located open commons area and Anne Thorne Weaver Museum Shop. The commons area will include amenities such as comfortable lounge seating and a coffee bar.
- Increased square footage for artwork storage and exhibition preparation.
- Fully updated mechanical systems, with special attention to collection safety.
“We are passionately committed to showcasing the Nebraska Art Collection. The need to expand, restore and renovate MONA’s current facilities to meet future needs has been evident for more than a decade,” said Tom Gallagher, newly elected president of the MONA Board of Directors. “A transformed MONA will be a source of discovery and delight through educational programming and events in addition to offering more inviting galleries, exhibits and indoor/outdoor public spaces.”
The MONA board has moved forward with a capital campaign to raise $25 million for the restoration, renovation and expansion, and an additional $5 million for an operating endowment to ensure relevant programming that pays attention to the needs of present and future patrons of all ages across Nebraska.
Gerry and Bruce Lauritzen, honorary campaign co-chairs for the Campaign for MONA and the Future of Nebraska Art, commented: “As stewards of the Nebraska Art Collection, MONA’s leadership has diversified the museum’s programming, expanded the collection and made art accessible to individuals across Nebraska through programs like ARTreach and Miles to MONA. The renovation, restoration and expansion of MONA will prepare the museum for the future — and the future of Nebraska art.”
During the construction period and leading up to MONA’s reopening, the museum staff will be relocated and expanded to offer innovative ways to stay connected to MONA and its collection through online and offsite initiatives. In addition, MONA will team with other cultural partners to offer programs.
“This exciting transformation of MONA will anchor this institution as an innovative and collaborative community partner. With new and improved spaces for visitors to gather and participate, the mission of MONA will be evident beyond simply our wonderful collection in even more spacious galleries. When the museum reopens, visitors will enjoy welcoming areas in and outside the museum, from natural light-filled lounge spaces inside the museum to outdoor terraces with seating among an enhanced sculpture garden and beautiful landscapes,” said Nicole Herden, executive director of MONA. “As we move forward, we will share museum updates regarding programming and project progress with communities across Nebraska.”
MONA’s ARTreach program will continue to provide exhibitions to various communities throughout Nebraska. Since 2000, over 350 ARTreach exhibitions have been sent to communities throughout the state.
MONA is governed by a statewide board of directors in collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Kearney.