Loess Hills

While visiting the kids in Omaha we took a short trip to the Loess Hills in  Western Iowa.  It was a short trip from Omaha, NE.  Council Bluffs, IA, is actually located in the Loess Hills.

The Loess Hills is a geographical area of porous, gritty, lightweight material and minerals covered by grasses, trees and plants.  Loess (pronounced “luss”) is not unusual, but what makes this area in Iowa so important, is because of the depth of the loess material.  The only other area that has loess of this depth and more can be found in China. 

On this trip, we visited the Hitchcock Nature Center in the Loess Hills.  The nature center is a wonderful place to learn about raptors and other birds of the area. There are many hiking trails around the center and an observation tower makes a good place to watch for the birds, too.

Loess Hills

bird watchers!

** click for a larger image.

Even though it was November, there was a lot to see. Grasses glowed with golden hues,  bare-branched trees reached toward the sky,  hills showed off their rounded or angular shapes, and the occasional bird soared by.

We did see an eagle on our hike, but I missed it with my camera!

To learn more about the Loess Hills, click here.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Thanks for visiting!


All text and images are copyright © 2002-2012 and are the exclusive property of Judy Johnson (unless otherwise indicated). All Rights Reserved. All Images are protected under United States and International copyright laws. None of the images on this site are in the Public Domain.


Art Deco design and the Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

Hello dear blog readers!
I promised you a few weeks ago I would post more photos of the Durham Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.  Tonight’s the night!


The Durham Museum was originally Omaha’s Union (train) Station, which was designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood and completed in 1931.  Gilbert Underwood used Art Deco design to enhance Union Station.  Union station was used from 1931 until it closed its doors to silence in 1971, after the last Union Pacific train departed.  The building remained vacant until 1975 when the Western Heritage Museum moved in.  At that time it was already in need of repairs.  In 1995 the building was closed for construction for more than a year.   In 1997 the building reopened, having been restored to its original glamour.  The building was re-named the Durham Museum, after Magre and Charles Durham, who were instrumental in organizing business leaders and philanthropists to help fund the restoration.

Art Deco Design:

Architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood used Art Deco design for the exterior and interior of the Durham Museum.  Many skyscrapers built in the 20’s and 30’s used Art Deco design. There are many hallmarks of Art Deco design that can be found inside and outside the museum.  Some features of Art Deco are: vertical designs, terraced-form sides, and exterior and interior stylized decorations.  High ceilings, cathedral windows, and pillars are all samples of vertical design and are all used in the museum.  In Art Deco buildings, geometric shapes were used to stylize plants and animals.  And the use of a sunburst was very popular then.  You can find zig-zags, squares, and lines in this type of design.  Another Art Deco characteristic is the use of metallic materials.  Architects used aluminum and stainless steel to give their buildings a modern, futuristic feeling.  In the Durham, natural stones were used: limestone for the interior walls, highly polished black marble for wainscoting and trim, and a terrazzo floor in a checkerboard pattern, interspersed with three large stylized sunburst patterns.  For the ceiling Underwood used gold, silver and aluminum leaf to accentuate decorative elements.  Another characteristic of Art Deco is the use of the chevron pattern.
Underwood also used bronze in the spandrels at the top of the windows, which are glazed in a rose tint.  It’s fun to look for these design elements in the museum….

Notice the chevron > > pattern and other geometric shapes

More geometric shapes and in the center, note the sunburst design....

  There is a stylized bird on each side of the clock.  (hard to see)  The detail under the clock is wonderful, too…

This is a close-up of the ceiling detail....gold, aluminum, stainless steel leaf. There is a chandelier hanging from the center

Here is the border in the same room. More gold, aluminum, steel leaf. On the ceiling you can see a raised chevron >>>pattern.

This is the floor in the main (former) passenger waiting area.  The sunburst design is considered “stylized” and repeats on the building exterior and inside too.  The floor here is terrazzo.

I know this was long……thanks for hanging in there!  I hope you learned something about Art Deco and the Durham Museum!  If you’d like to learn more, here are some links:

Durham Museum           Art Deco

Good night all!  Judy     

All images are copyright © 2005-2012 and are the exclusive property of Judy Johnson (unless otherwise indicated). All Rights Reserved. All Images are protected under United States and International copyright laws. None of the images on this site are in the Public Domain.

Christmas at the Durham~

Hello dear blog readers!
This evening we are going to the Durham Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Durham Museum was originally the city’s train station, called: Union Station.  Union Station was built between 1929-1931, when it began serving railroad passengers.  It continued as a train station until the early 1970’s, when it was closed.  At that time it became the Western Heritage Museum, with a small regional display of artifacts.  A large renovation took place in 1995, at which time the present Durham Museum opened its doors with a larger display of different modes of transportation, local historical displays, a gift shop and more.

The Durham is designed in the Art Deco fashion.  Note the ceiling, wall and lighting designs in the photo below; all popular during the Art Deco period.

Christmas at the Durham Museum, Omaha, NE.

I will post more photos of the Durham Museum in the upcoming weeks.
Thanks for stopping by!



Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska

Featuring the works of Jun Kaneko, sculptor and media artist.

Lauritzen Gardens are situated not far from downtown Omaha.  Yet, one feels as if they have been transported to a beautiful secluded space, far from the hustle and bustle of a large city.
The gardens are spectacular, with many themes to delight the eye and lens.  There is a Rose Garden, a Model Train Garden,  Spring Flowering,  Victorian, Woodland,  English,  Childrens’,  and many more garden theme areas.

Jun Kaneko is a prolific artist whose focus was drawn to sculptural ceramics, as we saw in the Lauritzen Gardens.  Mainly known as a sculptor, he also works with glass, textiles, bronze, paper and canvas.

On this occasion in the summer,  Kaneko’s contemporary ceramic sculptures were nestled amongst the plantings in the gardens.  It was a great opportunity to see the sculptures mingling with the leaves and stalks as if they had “grown” there with the foliage.  Their colors and shapes looked very peaceful and natural in the gardens.  It was an exceptional experience, and one I will always remember.







I hope you enjoyed the tour through the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha and the ceramic sculptures of Jun Kaneko.

Click here for information on Lauritzen Gardens.

Click here for information on Jun Kaneko.
Thanks for visiting!    Judy