Gov. Pillen Announces Additional State Funding for Museum of Nebraska Art’s Renovation and Expansion


Laura Strimple, (402) 580-9495

Allan Urlis, (531) 510-8529


Gov. Pillen Announces Additional State Funding for Museum of Nebraska Art’s Renovation and Expansion

LINCOLN, NE – This morning, Governor Jim Pillen announced an award of $845,767 to support the Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) in Kearney with completion of a multiyear restoration and expansion project. The announcement was made during an outdoor press conference held on Central Avenue in front of the museum construction site. State Senator John Lowe; Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse; MONA leaders, volunteers, and donors; and community supporters joined the Governor to celebrate the news.

“As Nebraska’s official collection of art, MONA displays who we are as a people,” said Gov. Pillen. “The museum showcases our state’s culture and celebrates the creations of artists in Nebraska. The State is grateful to support MONA as it restores its existing facility and nearly doubles its footprint in Kearney.”

The Nebraska Art Collection, formed in 1976, opened the Museum of Nebraska Art in 1986. Since that time, the museum has been housed in a former U.S. Post Office building, constructed in 1911, that is on the National Register of Historic Places. As charming as it is, the historic building placed severe constraints on MONA’s operations and ability to exhibit its 5,000+ works of art.

In December 2021, MONA broke ground on the project to renovate its historic home (25,000 square feet) and add new space (23,000 square feet). The redesigned museum will include a community studio, modernized galleries, an expanded sculpture garden, and event spaces to host programs and performances. It is scheduled for completion in late 2024.

"We are excited to soon be unveiling the reimagined Museum of Nebraska Art,” said MONA Executive Director Andrew Dunehoo. “This expansion not only increases our capacity to host larger and more diverse exhibitions and programs, but it also strengthens our role as a cornerstone of cultural revitalization in downtown Kearney and fulfills our mission and commitment to the State of Nebraska. Building upon our founding as the official State Art Collection of the State of Nebraska, the MONA will be completely revamped as a world class institution which citizens across the state can take pride in for generations to come. We are so close to the completion of our capital campaign and construction. Getting to this point would not be possible without the generous funding of this grant from the Department of Economic Development and other grants which support the arts in our communities, ensuring the cultural preservation of history and art in Nebraska. Our sincerest appreciation goes to Governor Jim Pillen, the Nebraska DED, and to the support of our community here in Kearney.”

DED announced $115 million of awards—apportioned by Congressional District—in June 2022 through the Shovel-Ready Capital Recovery & Investment Act program. The awards from this first round of program funding are supporting nonprofit organizations who experienced negative economic impacts because of the coronavirus pandemic. The funds are assisting awardees with completion of capital projects delayed by the pandemic.

Due to the volume of applications in Congressional District 3, MONA was initially awarded less shovel-ready funding than it was eligible to receive. Since then, DED has been able to reallocate remaining program funds to increase MONA’s award amount from $115,835 to $845,767. Along with the Shovel-Ready funds, DED awarded MONA a tourism grant of $225,000 in May 2023 to offset costs of a 24-month marketing campaign to promote the museum’s reopening. Combined, these awards represent more than $1 million of investment into the success of MONA’s expansion by the State’s economic development agency.

Round one of the Shovel-Ready Capital Recovery & Investment Act program was primarily funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act ($100 million), supplemented by $15 million of state funds. DED announced a second round of grants through the program in October 2023, awarding an additional $70 million of state funds to 17 recipients.