Site: Nebraska History Museum, 131 Centennial Mall N, Lincoln, NE 68508
Artists: Jeanine Centuori & Russell Rock
Client: Nebraska Arts Council
The Nebraska History Museum is a repository of cultural artifacts from the people and professions that have shaped the State. There are collections of art, clothing, handicrafts, weapons, tools, toys, machines, political campaigns and movements reflecting the various states of being of Nebraska’s inhabitants.
Some collections include items obtained in other countries that have found a home in the Museum. Others are items carried to the State by those relocating, as remembrances of where they were from originally. And some are locally made with what was at hand. All these reflect the nature of the people who gathered them and donated to the institution.
In Inside Outside, UrbanRock Design utilized a strategy of mining the artifacts to find representative items to make an ethereal appearance on the exterior of the Museum. Taking photographs of collection pieces, we translated them into colorful metal scrims that are suspended in the structural bays above the ground floor on the eastern entry façade of Museum. There are 12 panels, each measuring 5’-0” w. x 10’-0” h. x .25” t., grouped in pairs reflecting some areas of the collections; six structural bays, six pairs of images.
The imagery we used consisted of tools, dolls, keys, moccasins and shoes, a musical instrument and speaking trumpet, and a pot and ladle. These things are well represented in the Museum. Because of the manner in which these artworks are made, the voids within the metal create the image; what is not there is what is seen. Furthermore, as morning light strikes these artworks, a shadow image is cast upon the brick wall of the inset envelop of the building. This creates a verso image, a negative the to positive, looking much like a photographic film negative. This is the second type of antiquated technology referenced by the artworks. At night, by backlighting the panels, they appear as an image reversal of their daytime condition.
Due to the way that the images are translated to the metal, they have various degrees of legibility. Sometimes, from some angles, they appear to be organized but abstract dot patterns. As a viewer moves through space changing their sightlines to the artworks, the artworks move in and out of their recognizable image state. This perceptual changing nature makes the experience of the artworks different and fresh depending upon the light, the speed of travel, and proximity
to the artworks. Poetically, the state of flux is like the reading of the items in the collections- the meaning and perceptual understanding becomes greater the more things are examined. History reveals itself in both direct and indirect ways. What we see today may not be how those things are understood in the future.