History Museum Celebrates Nebraska's Sesquicentennial

For the next three months, all 93 of Nebraska’s counties will find themselves together in one space.

In celebration of 150 years of Nebraska’s statehood, the Nebraska History Museum will display over 120 paintings in an exhibition titled “The Legacy of Nebraska.” The paintings, done by Nebraskan artist Todd Williams, will represent each of Nebraska’s counties.

The works vary in size and subject; from the state capitol building to portraits of Native American chiefs.

Williams, a native of Central City, used various methods and inspirations to complete the paintings. 

“Some of them are plein air, [which means] he painted them out in the outdoors,” said Ann Billesbach, associate director of the Nebraska State Historical Society. “Some of them are painted from historic photographs. There are a few counties where he did more than one but there’s at least one from every Nebraska county.”

“The Legacy of Nebraska” is an official part of Nebraska’s 150 celebration and has been in the making for years.

Billesbach said the planning committee for the sesquicentennial also plans on making a book with all the paintings displayed in the exhibition.

The paintings will be shown at the Lincoln museum from March 1 to June 4, then the exhibit’s entirety will move to Omaha and Grand Island with smaller curated exhibits being shown in smaller Nebraskan towns.

At the Nebraska History Museum, much time was spent between the staff figuring out the best way to display and order the large amount of paintings.

Billesbach said Amanda Mobley Guenther, the person in charge of managing and developing the exhibit, suggested alphabetizing the paintings by the county they represent. Billesbach said this proved to work aesthetically and will allow viewers to find paintings from their home county easily. 

In addition to "The Legacy of Nebraska" exhibition, quilts from the Nebraska State Quilt Guild's sesquicentennial wall quilt competition will also be displayed. The three winning quilts by Dorothy Heidemann-Nelson, Lynn Greer and Marilyn Rembolt were displayed at the history museum until March 16. 

For more information and a full list of sesquicentennial events, visit https://ne150.org/

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Website: history.nebraska.gov/visit/nebraska-history-museum

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