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Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum—the largest in the Cornhusker State—will reopen its doors on September 10 after closing to the public in May 2022 while undergoing a dramatic refresh and long-awaited expansion. The September reintroduction will include the debut of a new 42,000-square-foot wing, the Rhonda and Howard Hawks Pavilion, along with 3 acres of reimagined museum grounds. The reopening marks the first time that the Joslyn’s collection, which includes more than 12,000 objects spanning 5,000 years of history, has undergone a complete gallery reinstallation. As part of its wide-ranging makeover, the museum will also launch a new graphic identity and website designed by Pentagram in April.

Hawks Pavilion, Joslyn Museum.

South garden view of the Joslyn Art Museum. Image courtesy Moare

Led by the New York office of Snøhetta in partnership with local firm Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture, the the campus overhaul increases the museum’s available exhibition space by 40 percent with the addition of light-filled galleries in the new wing (16,700 square feet in total) and a rethink of the museum’s existing galleries. The project is only the second expansion in the Joslyn’s 93-year history. The other is the 58,000-square-foot Scott Pavilion, which opened in 1994 as Norman Foster’s first completed commission in the United States. The museum’s original home, a pink marble-clad Art Deco landmark formally known as the Memorial Building, opened to fanfare in 1931.

Hawks Pavilion, Joslyn Art Museum


Hawks Pavilion, Joslyn Art Museum


Hawks Pavilion entry atrium with views of the Memorial Building, Scott Pavilion, and arrival garden (1); gallery view inside the new Hawks Pavilion (2). Images courtesy Moare

The two existing wings will be joined by a soaring glass entry atrium to the Hawks Pavilion, a swooping, low-slung structure clad in precast concrete panels that echo the iconic stacked-stone exterior steps of the Memorial Building.  Seemingly floating above its neighbors atop a transparent ground floor (home to a new museum store and multi-use community space), the “weightless effect of the hovering expansion recalls the striking cloud formations above the Great Plains, as well as the deep overhangs and horizontal expression of Prairie School architecture,” explain the architects.

The Hawks Pavilion “honors Joslyn’s historic character while creating a fresh expression for the museum’s future,” added Snøhetta founding partner Craig Dykers in a statement. “Our comprehensive reconsideration of the museum grounds, the existing interiors, and the newest wing all work together to create a more inviting entry for the growing spectrum of people that visit the museum.”

Hawks Pavilion, Joslyn Art Museum.

Construction view of the Hawks Pavilion entry Atrium and overlook. Photo ©

Outside, the museum’s sculpture gardens have been relocated and reimagined by Snøhetta’s landscape studio as a series of outdoor “rooms.” In the southeast corner of the site, an intimidating retaining wall, which gave the museum the appearance of being cloistered and inaccessible, has been lowered to reveal the monumental steps of the Memorial Building and a new Great Lawn framed by vibrant native plantings. The Joslyn’s main access point has also been moved to the northern edge of the campus where a new entry drive and raised garden “create a clear sense of front and a new beginning for the Museum experience.”

Hawks Pavilion, Joslyn Art Museum.


Hawks Pavilion, Joslyn Art Museum


Hawks Pavilion, Joslyn Art Museum


East elevation of the Memorial Building, Hawks Pavilion, central lawn, and courtyard (3); southeast aerial view of the Joslyn Art Museum and the construction of the Hawks Pavilion (4); rendering depicting southeast aerial view of the museum campus (5). Images courtesy Moare (3,5), photo © (4)

Back inside, spaces within the museum’s two older wings have also been renovated or enlarged to enhance the visitor experience and boost educational programming. These include public gathering areas, the museum café, lecture hall, studio and classroom spaces, art storage, as well as administrative offices located in the 1931 building.

Exhibitions set to open at the Hawks Pavilion in September include the inaugural presentation of the Phillip G. Schrager Collection, which includes more than 52 works of postwar and contemporary art across a range of media. On view in the new wing’s dedicated works on paper gallery will will be a selection of works recently gifted to the Joslyn by Omaha native Ed Ruscha. Meanwhile in the pavilion's media gallery, the museum will present French artist Clément Cogitore’ 2017 film Les Indes Galantes. General admission to the Joslyn will continue to be free as part of a year-round policy first enacted in 2013.