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Special painting highlights 1905 Omaha

Pure Nebraska
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 3:02 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Durham Museum is a unique place to visit, as it’s Omaha’s home to history. And while you visit the museum inside Union Station, you’ll want to check out a painting that’s on display there.

We caught up with Jessica Brummer, who is with the Durham Museum.

“A lot of people do think this painting is a photograph,” Brummer said. “The detail is incredible. It’s a mural, about 10′ by 5′. It’s part of the museum’s permanent collection. It is entitled ‘An Aerial View of Omaha’, and it was painted in 1905 by Edward Austen. He was hired by the Omaha Bee newspaper, and the idea was to paint this panoramic view of Omaha, for two reasons. One, to capture and celebrate the growth of the city. But also, it was to be used it as a bit of an advertisement to get people to move here.”

For about four months in 2021, the museum had a conservator from the Ford Conservation Center on site to restore the painting to its former glory. “You can see all of the detail up close,” Brummer said. “We are so glad it’s finally hanging here. There’s detail of buildings that still exist that you’ll be able to see and point out.”

Some of the buildings that you can see in the painting include what is now Omaha Central High School. There are several prominent churches that people can recognize.

“Of course, you’ll see the train stations,” Brummer said. “You’ll see the train tracks coming into the city, the original Union Station, as well as the Burlington Station. This is really focusing on downtown Omaha. In 1905, downtown Omaha was Omaha, but the mural also looks west to the horizon and wide open land.”

“If you’ve never been here, it’s a beautiful building,” Brummer said. “This is a National Historic Landmark, so this building itself, Union Station, is a gem. But of course, the museum is here as well, and there’s a ton to learn and see.” If you’d like to learn more about the museum, go to durhammuseum.org.

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