The Nebraska Art Collection was first created in 1976, but lacked a permanent home. A state-appointed commission settled on the historic post office building. Built in 1911 and slated for demolition, the Neoclassical architecture, marble interiors, and spacious, well-lit rooms attracted the attention of museum officials. The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) was dedicated and opened to the public in October, 1986.
In observation of the 100th anniversary of the MONA building, an exhibition was launched in 2011 featuring photographs that document construction. Many of the pictures are by Solomon Butcher, famous for his sod house images. By the time of the construction, Butcher and his son had a photography studio in Kearney. They were contracted by the Federal Government to record the construction.
The materials for the exhibition were donated to MONA in 2010 by the United States Postal Service. Historic photographs are on public view for the first time. Accompanying archival schematics and correspondence about the construction process are included. Viewers are able to see the progress of the construction, and get a sense of the labor-intensive methods used to build such a stately structure.
The original Kearney Post Office is a work of art itself. What better way to refit and reuse it than as an art museum?