You can hear the excitement in Barbara Gehringer’s voice.
Gehringer is executive director of the Fremont Area Art Association, which recently received a new permanent collection.
And it’s a collection that can help people learn more about Nebraska.
In April 2017, the art association displayed 30 photographs from “Bridges: Sharing Our Past to Enrich the Future.”
The exhibit consists of photographs of historic sites or hidden treasures from the 93 counties in Nebraska. The Hildegard Center for the Arts in Lincoln assembled the collection which traveled across the Nebraska last year for the state’s sesquicentennial celebration.
In May, Hildegard President Kim Einspahr said in a letter that the 501©3 nonprofit organization would dissolve this month so she and all those who’ve volunteered for the center can spend more time with their families.
The center is donating its assets to various nonprofits.
Gehringer said the FAAA learned about 1 ½ months ago that it was chosen as the permanent home for the “Bridges” collection.
“The Hildegard Center board was very impressed with Fremont and the gallery’s collaboration with the (Keene Memorial) Library and Fremont Public Schools when we worked to bring part of that exhibit here in April,” Gehringer said.
Hildegard board members thought the FAAA would use the collection and share it with others, something Gehringer believes speaks very highly of this community.
The collection includes narratives about each photograph. In addition, the entire collection is featured in a slide show.
The art association also is set to receive other educational resources that had been on the Hildegard website. These resources include historical and current information about each county along with other images unique to each county.
While the art association doesn’t have immediate plans for the exhibit which it acquired just last week, but Gehringer sees much potential for it.
“My hope is to work with the library and the schools and maybe even the May Museum in using this as a really good tool for our community to learn about our state,” she said. “We hope at some future date to exhibit the entire collection here (at the FAAA) and then potentially lend it in parts as it had been to us.”
Some galleries may only have space to exhibit 20 of the photos.
If the FAAA uses all of its gallery space, it can exhibit the entire display.
The FAAA also purchased the former Rump’s Furnace & Hardware building next door to the west and has begun renovation.
When new space is opened up next door, there will be room to show the entire exhibit.
Gehringer also said the library is expanding so there is potential to show the exhibit there.
She pointed out the quality of the “Bridges” exhibit, noting that it opened at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln and closed at the Durham Museum in Omaha.
“That’s the caliber of the exhibit that they have entrusted to our gallery in Fremont and that speaks very highly of our community — that we would be good stewards of that,” Gehringer said.
When the Hildegard center extended a call for photographs
More than 800 photos were submitted when the Hildegard Center issued a call to professional and amateur photographers to capture scenes in Nebraska’s county. The 93 photos were chosen from those submissions.
The “Bridges” exhibit includes photographs by two FAAA members, Brian Weber of Fremont and Angela Carroll of Lincoln.
Weber’s photograph, representing Dodge County, features Vince and Kerstin O’Connor in their Yankee Peddler West store in downtown Fremont.
Carroll has photographs representing Seward and Polk counties.
Dr. Richard Callaway of Fremont has a photo representing Garden County. The photo, which depicts a pioneer woman in front of a traditional-style sod house, helps bridge the past to the present.
Gehringer is pleased that the FAAA was chosen to receive the exhibit, which she describes as a great visual archive of the state.
“I am humbled and honored and thrilled for the possibilities,” she said. “It’s a nice visual profile of the whole state that goes way beyond the 150th birthday. It’s timeless.”