Named after an American Indian Tribe, Omaha means “those going against the wind or current.” Today, the city is home to an eclectic mix of artists, musicians, and bohemian gathering spots. As its name implies, much of Omaha is anything but conventional.
Set in an historic neighborhood, locals and visitors flock to Old Market for its unique clothing boutiques, antique stores, art galleries, pubs and entertainment. On the first Friday of every month, artists and art lovers stroll the area’s local galleries thanks to First Fridays – when gallery patrons enjoy free admission and light bites. Old Market also offers more than 30 restaurants and close proximity to Joslyn Art Museum and the Omaha Children’s Museum.
Where: Omaha, NE 68102
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
Omaha is also home to a record-breaking structural work of art – the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. As the longest pedestrian bridge to link two states (Nebraska and Iowa), it provides an illuminated arc over the Missouri River for walking and biking enthusiasts, connecting to 150 miles of trails on each side. The cable stay bridge is 3,000 feet long, including the landings, and carries pedestrians 60 feet above the river. At night, LED lights outlining the deck, cables and pylons are visible for miles. The design team also incorporated specific protections for migratory birds and added interactive sculptures to educate visitors about local endangered species.
Where: 705 Riverfront Drive, Omaha, NE 68102
Omaha’s celebrated Orpheum Theater has served as the home of the finest in local and national performing arts for almost a century, including the best of Broadway’s national touring companies. Located in Downtown Omaha, the Orpheum was renovated in 2002 at a cost of $10 million to upgrade the experience of patrons and performers, while also restoring the theater’s ornate splendor. A cornerstone of Omaha’s cultural history, this former vaudeville house was constructed in 1927.
Where: 409 S. 16th St., Omaha, NE 68102
Over the last decade, Omaha’s indie rock music scene and Saddle Creek Records have gained national attention. And many of the area’s well-known bands such as Cursive and The Faint played a gig or two at Slowdown. The venue was featured as the 2007 Esquire Magazine’s Club of the Year, and continues to showcase some of the city’s hottest new punk, hardcore and rock performances.
Where: 729 N. 14th St., Omaha, NE 68102
In 2007, Omaha sculptor Matthew Placzek created “Illumina,” a $2 million public art project that now graces the grounds of the Qwest Center Omaha. The installation’s six bronze sculptures – including a 14-foot stilts walker – are reminiscent of an era in which performers were an active part of daily street life and local events. Numerous multicolored spheres are also placed in the arena lobby, adding depth and vibrancy to the sculpture. The entire project consists of more than 2,000 LED lights, 4,000 pounds of bronze, 28,000 pounds of stainless steel and 360 tons of concrete.
Where: Qwest Center, 455 N. 10th St., Omaha, NE 68102
Omaha offers a vibrant arts scene for both locals and visitors. From the city’s diverse art galleries and thriving music venues to its public art installations, Omaha welcomes artists of all walks to America’s heartland.
Photo credit: iStockphoto/emptyclouds