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Renaissance

ARTS & CULTURE • 20 years of applause

(page 6 of 7)

Established organizations have shown new life. Joslyn Art Museum built a huge addition designed by noted architect Sir Norman Foster. It’s since added a pair of sculpture gardens. The Durham Museum underwent a refurbishment and gained Smithsonian affiliation.
The Omaha Children’s Museum found a new home and completed extensive renovations. The Omaha Community Playhouse redid its theater and lobby spaces. The Henry Doorly Zoo built the Lied Jungle, the Desert Dome, the Lozier IMAX Theater and other new attractions.
 

The Bemis expanded its gallery exhibition schedule and educational programming as well as added the Underground and the Okada. Now it’s poised for new growth.
 

Old venues received serious makeovers. An Orpheum renovation allowed the largest touring Broadway shows to come. The city spent millions in renovating Rosenblatt Stadium, in turn helping it become a national icon.
 

Existing organizations found new digs. The Omaha Symphony made the Holland its home. The Emmy Gifford Children’s Theater moved into the old Astro (Paramount) movie house, renamed The Rose, and became the Omaha Theater Company.
 

Popular events drew ever larger crowds, such as Jazz on the Green, the Cathedral Flower Festival, the Summer Arts Festival and the College World Series.
 

Even with all the new options, it didn’t appear as if Omaha reached a saturation point. Rather than pulling audiences from one another, the increasing number of options has “grown the pie.” Using the Holland and Orpheum as examples, Joan Squires noted the presence of these two venues has only increased patronage.
 

“When you open a major facility and you bring in new arts offerings the community continues to lift up,” she said. “It broadens and really makes more things possible. In the last five years we’ve reached 1.7 million people. We’ve seen nights where both buildings sold out and there’s a lot of arts going on at other facilities all at the same time, and there’s an audience for everybody. We’ve got a growing and thriving arts community. I think it’s very encouraging.”
 

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