Nebraska gets a bad rap from a lot of people who think there’s no art or culture here. We know they’re wrong – there’s plenty here that warrants attention besides our beautiful landscape, great people, and fascinating history. For everyone who thinks Nebraska is all barns and windmills, here are some examples of our state’s architectural gems.
1. Capitol Building, Lincoln
Truly one of the most impressive buildings in Nebraska, the capitol building was designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue. The construction took place over a decade (1922-1932) and contains elements of Gothic and Classical architectural styles. Inside, ornate murals, mosaics and carvings provide non-stop visual interest.
2. Durham Museum (Union Station), Omaha
This cavernous structure, completed in 1931, is absolutely breathtaking and has always been considered one of the most impressive examples of Art Deco architecture in the Midwest. It once operated as a busy train station, but today it houses the always-interesting Durham Museum.
3. Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln
Designed by famed Postmodern architect Philip Johnson, The Sheldon Museum sits on the UNL campus and houses the world's largest collection of 20th century North American art.
4. Holy Family Shrine, Gretna
This thoughtfully-designed place of reflection and worship features criss-crossing wood beams over glass. This creates a spectacular, ever-changing study in light and shadow inside the building. Water flows freely into and through the shrine, connecting visitors with nature as they commune with a higher power.
5. Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Island
This world-class museum is notable not only for its extensive collections, but also for its breathtaking building and grounds. The main building was designed by iconic Modern-style architect Edward Durell Stone.
6. Alliance Theater, Alliance
This stunning Art Deco building came to life in 1903 as the Charter Hotel. It was turned into a theater in 1938 and, at more than a century old, is still a true eye-catcher.
7. Johnson County Courthouse, Tecumseh
As one of the state's oldest counties, you might expect Johnson County to house one of Nebraska's most impressive courthouses. This Romanesque-Revival style building was constructed in 1888.
8. International Quilt Study Center and Museum, Lincoln
This unique structure was designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and built in 2008. The eco-friendly glass and brick building houses the world's largest public collection of quilts.
9. Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, Kearney
This visually striking monument is remarkable in part because of its location: it straddles Interstate 80 just east of Kearney. Construction on the Archway began in 1997 and the museum opened in 2000.
10. Hall County Courthouse, Grand Island
When Nebraska county courthouses were being built, it seems that each county seat was in competition to build the most beautiful, unusual structure. Hall County's lovely courthouse dates back to 1901.
11. Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha
This truly beautiful Art Deco building was commissioned in 1931 by Sarah Joslyn in memory of her husband, George. In 1938 it was celebrated as one of the 100 finest buildings in the country; it remains Nebraska's largest art museum and one of the loveliest Art Deco buildings in the U.S.
12. The Orpheum Theater, Omaha
13. Midwest Theater, Scottsbluff
Built in 1946, the Midwest Theater is a fine example of Moderne architecture, a late Art Deco style characterized by its grand, swooping lines.
There are some well-known brilliant buildings noticeably missing from this list – you may find your favorites on our lists of
beautiful churches and historic houses.