Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
Backstory and Context
The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art opened in October 2007 to international acclaim for its architecture, collection, and exhibition programming. The elegant, minimalist building was designed by architect Kyu Sung Woo and is clad in Kansas limestone. Throughout the museum’s two levels are ten expansive galleries for temporary exhibitions and the permanent collection. Additionally, the museum houses the 200 seat Hudson Auditorium, Café Tempo, two classrooms, and art storage and preparation spaces. The museum boasts two lobbies – the impressive Cantilever Entrance (featuring a dazzling 60,000 white LED installation by artist Leo Villareal) and the glass and metal Atrium Lobby.
The museum’s permanent collection is comprised of works gifted by Marti and Tony Oppenheimer and the Oppenheimer Brothers Foundation. Art from Johnson County Community College’s Permanent Collection (acquired largely through JCCC’s annual acquisition fund) supplement the Oppenheimer Collection on view in the permanent collection galleries.
In April 2006, Public Art Review magazine named JCCC as one of the top 10 university/college campuses for public art in America, citing the outdoor sculpture and paintings, ceramics, photography and works on paper installed throughout the campus. The Oppenheimer Collection is the core of the museum’s permanent collection. It is showcased within three permanent collection galleries and throughout the campus.
Woo’s design for the Nerman demonstrates his philosophy that a museum should be experiential – both in viewing art and experiencing the building itself. His incorporation of skylights, gallery clerestories, windows, and glass lobby walls provides museum visitors with “a connection to time and a connection to nature.”
Interior Nerman Museum spaces are linked to the exterior with expansive glazing at the ground floor lobby and strategically placed windows on the upper level, which connect to the distant landscape and provide expansive views. Controlled natural lighting is featured throughout upper and lower level galleries, except in the museum’s special “black box” new media gallery.
The exhibition spaces are connected by dramatic, monumental stairways bathed in natural light, which highlight one's ascension to serene upper level galleries. The gallery spaces are identified as a volume dynamically cantilevered from the core of the museum structure. The building is clad in a pristine veneer of white Kansas limestone. Grey Spanish limestone and white, quarter sawn oak gallery floors define the elegant interior spaces.
In addition to displaying spectacular works of art in dynamic new spaces, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art offers educational programs and resources. Informative, interactive art appreciation tours led by volunteer docents are designed to facilitate appreciation and understanding of contemporary art in our exhibitions and in the permanent collection on view throughout campus. Regular museum programming also includes gallery talks, visiting artists’ presentations and international film series. Engaging studio classes for children are offered on Saturdays and during the summer. Printed orientation materials, interpretive labels, and self-guided tours enhance museum experiences for casual visitors of all ages.