July 8, 2013

The Omaha Art Walk

There’s an abundance of free activities in Omaha. Here’s another you can do any time, and it’s outside, educational and keeps kids active.

Take the Omaha Art Walk with your kids, but make it fun, call it the Omaha Art Treasure Hunt. I find calling anything a treasure hunt instantly makes it appealing to my kids. “Hey, let’s go on a grocery treasure hunt!”

What also makes the Omaha Art Walk appealing is the water fountain near No. 7 on the walk (First National Bank).

What also makes the Omaha Art Walk appealing is the water fountain near No. 7 on the walk (First National Bank).

Head over to this site to download the free Public Art Walking Tour brochure. You’ll need to print it out, since it will tell you where to go, what to look for and what the art might mean.

So, you go on this treasure hunt and your kids’ job is to find each art piece on the “map.”

The tour has 22 pieces of public art on there, making it about a 2-mile trek. If younger kids are on the tour, bring a stroller. You’ll find benches to sit on if you need a break along the way – especially in the Gene Leahy Mall* at the start and end of the tour, as well as around the CenturyLink area. If you’re doing this walk in the summer, there are some fountains the kids can run through at the First National Bank tower (across the street from the geese sculptures at #7 on the tour).

First National Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness Park, or No. 7 on your tour. Run across the street to the fountains in front of First National Bank if you need to cool off.

First National Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness Park, or No. 7 on your tour. Run across the street to the fountains in front of First National Bank if you need to cool off.

And if you need someplace with A/C along the way, the tour passes by the public library on Douglas Street (between 14th and 15th streets). Bathrooms are in there, as well.

Totem, or No. 6 on the tour, AKA, the bathroom break.

Totem, or No. 6 on the tour, AKA, the bathroom break.

Now, the thing about public art is that not everything is going to appeal to your kids (or you). I have my favorites on this walk – like the awesome mural “Fertile Ground,” which is an out-of-the way stop on the tour (No. 9), but you don’t want to miss seeing this one up close.

My kids really enjoyed exploring First National Pioneer Courage Park, No. 8. Here’s where I’d stop for a picnic – there are plenty of trees and a lot of green space.

Checking out the pioneer families at First National Pioneer Courage Park in Omaha.

Checking out the pioneer families at First National Pioneer Courage Park in Omaha.

The waterfall at First National Pioneer Courage Park as a hit with the kids. Notice how Mr. Wonderful had to keep them from falling in.

The waterfall at First National Pioneer Courage Park as a hit with the kids. Notice how Mr. Wonderful had to keep them from falling in.

Whether you think it’s all good or bad, public art is a great thing to discuss, and you can use this little tour to help your kids find ways to describe how art makes them feel. Keep track of what your kids say about the things you see on the treasure hunt. Check off on your walking guide the pieces your kids think are cool. Mark a big ‘X’ over the ones everyone thought were weird (perhaps, there are better descriptions you could use to teach your kids about art).

What’s your favorite downtown public art piece?

* If you haven’t been downtown lately, Gene Leahy Mall is undergoing some major renovations in the summer of 2013. The path around the mud pit, I mean lake, is closed off so some of the artwork there might not be accessible or easily viewed.

Comments

  1. Fun post! It’s great to get kids outside AND exposed to art/the arts. OPL is proud of the various art pieces in our branches. “Totem,” pictured above, is a sculpture by Omaha-based artist Catherine Ferguson. One of her pieces was recently selected to display at one of the new Walmart stores in Omaha; quite an impressive feat!

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