Free event Aug. 5-6 to showcase many of Omaha metro’s ‘most fascinating’ spaces

By: - July 28, 2023 4:00 am

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts’ LOW END music venue (Courtesy of Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts)

OMAHA — More than 60 of what Omaha by Design considers the “most fascinating” venues in the metro area will be on display for the public during a free event Aug. 5-6.

The Culxr House in North Omaha (Courtesy of Omaha by Design)

This is the second annual weekend-long “Open Omaha,” and organizers are expecting a turnout even larger than last year’s 6,000 venue visits. Featured places to see include historic landmarks, public parks, museums, cultural institutions, creative workspaces, sacred sites, sports venues and government structures.

“Last year’s event demonstrated the incredible power of bringing people together to open doors, open minds and open conversations about our city,” said Scott Dobbe, executive director of Omaha by Design, a nonprofit leading the effort.

Omaha by Design advocates for excellence in design and policy and that works to strengthen neighborhoods and public spaces.

Dobbe said that organizers, inspired by similar concepts in cities such as Denver, Minneapolis and Chicago, wanted to offer an opportunity for people of all ages to explore new and different places, some they otherwise might not have reason to step foot in. 

Venues showcased in the event will be open for walk-in tours, and people are encouraged to chart their own course — with the help of a special app — and visit as many venues as they’d like.

This year features 21% more options and a somewhat different mix than last year. Dobbe said each year is expected to offer fresh choices. 

Omaha Public Library’s new downtown branch
(Courtesy of Omaha by Design)

New to the 2023 lineup are some spaces that recently opened, such as the North Omaha Trail and the historically renovated Omaha Public Library downtown branch. 

Others added since last year are the Papillion City Hall and KIOS Omaha Public Radio.

Returning venues include First Avenue Trail in Council Bluffs, the Benson Theatre, Charles Schwab Field in downtown Omaha, the Highlander Accelerator in North Omaha and St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha’s midtown.

Those interested in participating are encouraged to download the Open Omaha app for more information, to map out their route and to confirm each spot’s hours (generally from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). Organizers also are seeking volunteers to help.

Dobbe said he has witnessed similar events in places like Chicago, where he said droves of city-dwellers turned out and found themselves seeing their town from different perspectives.

He said organizers hope to change the mindset of some who think there is “nothing to do” in the metro area.

“There is much more than is visible just on the surface,” said Dobbe.

Among the featured venues in 2023 “Open Omaha” event:



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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.