MONA hosts groundbreaking ceremony for renovation, expansion project

KEARNEY – The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Friday to mark the beginning of a comprehensive restoration, renovation and expansion project.

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.

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.

Located at 2401 Central Ave. in downtown Kearney, MONA is the official home of the Nebraska Art Collection. The museum’s permanent collection of nearly 6,000 works reflects nearly 200 years of history by artists with local, national or international acclaim.

MONA is housed in a 1911 former post office building that was purchased in 1986 and renovated twice, with the last renovation in 1993. The Neoclassical building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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. 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.

MONA is governed by a statewide board of directors in collaboration with the University of Nebraska at Kearney.