“Things Speak” at Sheldon

Tour guides at the Capitol tell the story of Nebraska by interpreting the artwork and symbolism in the monumental building. A new exhibit at Sheldon Museum of Art tells the story of featured Capitol artwork and additional objects from many Lincoln museums. The “Things Speak: Storied Objects from Lincoln Collections” exhibit is open through February 8, 2015 at the Sheldon Museum of Art located at 12th and R Streets on the University of Nebraska campus.  “Things Speak: Storied Objects from Lincoln Collections” displays items from the Capitol and other institutions in Lincoln including the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, Frank H. Woods Telephone Pioneer Museum, Great Plains Art Museum, International Quilt Study Center and Museum, Kruger Collection, LUX Center for the Arts, Museum of American Speed Smith Collection, National Museum of Roller Skating,  Pioneers Park Nature Center, Sheldon Museum of Art, and University of Nebraska State Museum. The items featured each have a special story to tell: who created the object, what did it mean, where did it come from, why it was created and when. The stories behind the objects are as interesting as the objects themselves and demonstrate how important storytelling is to understanding the world around us. Items from the Nebraska Capitol Collections include the main elevation presentation drawing created by the office of Bertram G. Goodhue for the competition which selected his firm to design and build the Nebraska State Capitol. The rendering is an excellent example of an ink wash drawing.  Goodhue’s office was well known for their use of this challenging drawing technique. Three maquettes by the three artists to produce artwork for the Capitol during initial construction are featured. Sculptor Lee Lawrie’s large plaster model of St. Louis, Louis the IX, is displayed in the first gallery of the exhibit. This is a rare opportunity to see the size and scale of the relief work at the base of the Capitol’s tower.  Hildreth Meiere used State Museum at the University of Nebraska Director Erwin Barbour’s 1927 chalk sketches of prehistoric animal life in Nebraska as the basis for her dramatic black and white rotunda floor mosaics. Barbour’s colorful chalk drawings are a dramatic contrast to the black and white mosaics visitors see in the Capitol. Meiere’s wool and linen maquette for the Sun Dance tapestry in the East Legislative Chamber has a very interesting back story, one of many in the exhibition. Elizabeth Honor Dolan’s working sketch for the “Spirit of the Prairie” mural in the Nebraska State Law Library helps tell the story of the evolution of the artist’s pioneer woman themed paintings. Several of the Capitol’s things speak directly to things supplied by other institutions in the city. Finding the related stories among the objects is just one part of experiencing how “Things Speak” to us.  The “Things Speak: Storied Objects from Lincoln Collections” exhibit is open through February 8, 2015 at the Sheldon Museum of Art located at 12th and R Streets on the University of Nebraska campus. The museum is hosting several public events related to the exhibit. Rob Walker, columnist for The New York Times and co-editor of “Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things,” is the keynote speaker for a symposium on the nexus of an object and its story. The talk is 5:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at Sheldon. The American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 631 D St., will participate in the UNL History Harvest led by Will Thomas, professor of history. The event is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 18. Grace Bauer, UNL professor and poet, will lead a writing workshop in conjunction with the exhibition at 10 a.m. to noon, Nov. 8 at Sheldon. “Thing Think: A Creativity Workshop for Families” is an intergenerational workshop led by Seattle artist Joe Sparano from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 27 at Sheldon.