Current Exhibits


American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
March 2-June 23, 2019

American DemocracyInspired by the new permanent exhibition at the National Museum of American History, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, explores America’s bold experiment in a government “of, by, and for the people.” From the Smithsonian Institution, this exhibition is the centerpiece of a high-profile initiative on democracy and civics education. Featuring engaging multimedia experiences, immersive design, and artifacts from the Smithsonian and state historical organizations, American Democracy will demonstrate that democracy relies on our active participation in the quest to form a “more perfect union.” Exhibit sections explore the origins of our democracy, the changing identity of eligible voters, the machinery of democracy, the right to petition and protest beyond the ballot, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

The premiere venue of this 12-city tour, Durham Museum curators will incorporate local stories and artifacts from our own collections and other state institutions into the exhibition resulting in a unique installation that visitors will not see anywhere else. As an exhibition and catalyst for public programming, American Democracy will inspire audiences, reflect the value of civics education, and spark important discussions that are essential to a healthy democracy.

SmithsonianAmerican Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith was developed by the National Museum of American History and adapted for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Supported Locally by

Douglas County Visitor Improvement Fund
Humanities Nebraska
On Track Guild

Ramona and Deryl Hamann

Media Support Provided by



After exploring American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, reflect on what it means to be a good citizen. Share your thoughts via social media using #myfellowcitizens.

American Experiments
Now – May 18, 2019
Saturdays, 11AM-2PM

American ExperimentsBuilding a nation together requires conversation, debate, negotiation and compromise. American Experiments is a set of activities that invite you to explore, play and connect with the people around you. Four experiments bring to life the themes of the American Democracy exhibition—participation, commitment, negotiation, voting, protest, and pluralism. You’ll reflect on the history of the nation we build together and consider your own role in creating the nation of tomorrow.
We invite you to experiment in this space—join in, play, maybe talk to someone new. There are no right answers here, just an opportunity to share and discuss ideas, and to think about the questions that have faced generations of Americans.

American Experiments was developed in partnership with the Exploratorium, and made possible by a gift from the Julie and Greg Flynn Family Fund.

(American Experiments is also available for private tours and workshops by calling 402-444-5027)

Omaha Union Station

Photo Archive Gallery

Jobber’s Canyon: Omaha’s Lost History

This exhibition was developed by Durham Museum intern and University of Nebraska at Omaha undergraduate, Adam Barritt.

Omaha’s “Jobbers Canyon” was a recognized historic district placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. It was demolished in 1988-89 to clear land for the building of the Conagra Brand’s headquarters and is to date one of the largest “lost” historic districts in United States’ history. The Nash Block Building is the last remaining structure from this iconic part of Omaha’s history.
This local focus exhibition uses images from the museum’s Photo Archive to resurrect nine of the businesses and buildings that made this area of Omaha so unique.

Photo: Jobber’s Canyon Street View | April 1929 | The Bostwick-Frohardt /KM3TV Collection
The Durham Museum Photo Archive | BF61-149

Jobber's Canyon
Intern Favorites
Our Favorites: Photo Selections by Durham Museum Interns

Did you know The Durham Museum hosts around 18 interns a year? These students come from different schools, different majors, and different backgrounds, but they do have one thing in common – they love history! As part of their time at The Durham, interns in the Curatorial department digitize photographs from our 1.1 million image Photo Archive. While all of these are unique in some way, there are a few that have made a special impression. This local focus exhibition will highlight just a few of the intern favorites and each student’s thoughts about what makes these particular images so special.

Photo: Bear Cub | March 1970 | Robert Paskach /Omaha-World Herald Collection
The Durham Museum Photo Archive | RP-35mm-2504-019

A Regency of Style


A Regency of Style: Cultural Changes in 18th and 19th Century Europe
Now – July 21, 2019

This exhibition was developed by Durham Museum intern and University of Nebraska at Omaha graduate, Mallory Boyle.

The Regency Era (1795-1830) was a time when enlightenment thought provoked lifestyle and culture changes throughout Europe. The onset of the French Revolution resulted in clothing styles changing seemingly overnight. From having an aristocratic flair to favoring the masses, women’s clothing was now tactful and practical, usually a skirt with jacket, or was inspired by classical Greco-Roman ideals, with high-waisted, natural figures in flowing fabrics. Men began wearing trousers and perfectly tailored, unadorned linen suits.

Technology and political shifts allowed people to use clothing as a form of individual expression rather than an indication of social status. Clothing choices now provided insight into both public identities and private selves. This night-and-day change sparked revolutionary thought and represented equality among people. Who would have thought clothing could be so political?

Photo: Portrait of William IV of England | 1765-1837 | The Byron Reed Collection | 25.6

Omaha LibraryFor the People of Omaha: Byron Reed and the Original Omaha Public Library
Now – July 21, 2019

This exhibition was developed by Durham Museum intern and University of Nebraska at Omaha History MA candidate, Sean Summerfelt.

The Omaha Library Association was established in 1857 when Omaha City was only a fledgling three-year-old city. Though this first association was short lived, it amassed a collection of 4,500 books. In 1877 the Omaha City Council appointed a Library Board and levied a tax to create the Omaha Public Library, which began with the same 4,500 books collected by the association.
Omaha’s first real estate agent and one of the richest men in the city, Byron Reed was very involved with the library. Upon his death in 1891, he willed land at 18th and Harney Streets to the City of Omaha to create a permanent home for the institution and to also house his collection of 17,000 rare coins, documents, and books for Omaha’s citizens. The building was designed by Omaha architect Thomas Kimball and opened its doors in 1894.

This local focus exhibition uses documents and photographs from Byron Reed’s collection to explore this iconic partnership between a philanthropic benefactor and the Omaha Public Library.

Photo: Omaha Public Library Building | 18th and Harney Streets | July 7, 1931 |
The Bostwick-Frohardt /KM3TV Collection | The Durham Museum Photo Archive | BF880-026

You Are What You Eat:
Setting the Table during the Second World War
Special Online-Only Exhibition!

You Are What You Eat ExhibitDo you or your neighbors tend a vegetable garden? Do you know people who can their own preserves, follow “Meatless Mondays” or eat farm to table? During the Second World War, rationing ensured that enough food and supplies went to fighting men on the frontlines. At home, new solutions were created in the kitchen to support the need. The war brought changes to the Omaha kitchen, including many modern urban farming trends. While today this food-based activism is a lifestyle choice, these methods were made necessary in the 1940s by a war that rationed everything from sugar and butter to flour and meat. The war changed America’s diet and what you ate became a patriotic statement.
Pictured: Margaret Brown with canning jars | 1938 | John Savage Collection | The Durham Museum Photo Archive | JS30B-732B