A few weeks back I blogged about a needlework project undertaken in Nebraska by Home Extension clubs to commemorate the 1976 Bicentennial. Today I’m keeping with that theme and spotlighting a larger and more public commemorative project. If you’ve traveled I-80 through Nebraska, you’ve probably come across it yourself.
In 1973 the Nebraska American Revolution Bicentennial Commission undertook a project to dot the rest-stops along the interstate in Nebraska with outdoor sculpture. Designed to serve as a lasting tribute to the 1976 anniversary, the Nebraska I-80 Bicentennial Sculpture Project set out to create an outdoor sculpture garden to be enjoyed by Nebraskans, and visitors, alike. Although there was some controversy surrounding the project at the time due to the abstract nature of the sculptures chosen and the lack of Nebraska sculptors included, the project succeeded in placing eight interesting pieces along Nebraska’s busiest roadway.
The Nebraska State Historical Society collection houses four maquettes from the project and additional photographs. The maquette seen above was prepared by the artist Hans Van Bovenkamp who constructed the 35′ aluminum sculpture, Roadway Confluence, at the Sidney west-bound rest-stop.
The Society’s Library/Archives holds the records of the Nebraska I-80 Bicentennial Sculpture Project, including photographs, audio recordings and moving images. Contact the Library/Archives division for more information. You might also check out the Sheldon Museum of Art website for more information plus images of the sculptures installed.
–Deb Arenz, Senior Museum Curator