Plans rev up for resurrection of iconic Pershing center mural

By: - May 23, 2023 4:00 am
Pershing Center mural preserved

Rendering of Pershing Center mural, which is being preserved and is to bd resurrected at Wyuka cemetery and state park. (Courtesy of Michelle McCullough, Moment Architecture)

LINCOLN — Fans of the $4 million effort to resurrect the Pershing Center mural are celebrating a key financial contribution and are preparing to show off the iconic artwork’s future home to visitors during the Memorial Day holiday.

Rendering of the Pershing mural as it is to be installed at Lincoln’s Wyuka cemetery and state park. (Courtesy of Michelle McCullough, Moment Architecture)

The $250,000 donation from Lincoln’s Harbor of Dreams Foundation kicks off the next fundraising phase, said Liz Shea-McCoy, organizer of the mural restoration and relocation project.

A site has already been secured at Lincoln’s Wyuka historical park and cemetery. But the committee led by Shea-McCoy is short of funds needed to cover costs to restore and reassemble the 763,000 pieces that makeup the mural.

About $850,000 was raised quickly for the first phase that determined the feasibility of preserving the art, which was detached from the auditorium and stored.

Legislative effort

A legislative proposal this year by State Sen. George Dungan of Lincoln urging state senators to earmark $1.5 million toward the project stalled in committee stage.

The mural had spanned the facade of the Pershing since 1957, but doom loomed after the Pershing was rendered obsolete in 2014 by the new Pinnacle Bank.

Shea-McCoy and others swooped in last year to save the mural from destruction.

The artwork is a ‘memory cache’ for thousands of Nebraskans

– Liz Schea-McCoy, volunteer organizer of mural preservation group

“We’ve learned the artwork is a ‘memory cache’ for thousands of Nebraskans,” Shea-McCoy said, noting how donors reminisce about concerts, sporting and other memory-making events they attended at the auditorium.

A viewing opportunity of the future lakeshore site at Wyuka Park will be offered during popular Memorial Day events at the cemetery. May 25-29, during daylight hours, Wyuka visitors will see the proposed site outlined with white-flagged stakes. Volunteers with information are to be onsite for questions and information.

“Once you see the flagged footprint on the lakeshore, you are struck by the beauty of the site, the scale of the mural and the natural framework of the park’s topography,” said Wyuka Trustees Chair Faye Osborn. “When reinstalled, close to eye-level, the mural will be a show stopping artwork for interpretative viewing.”

Mid-2024 unveiling

The mural is to serve as the backdrop to a future stage and outdoor performance area.

Ground preparation work at the Wyuka pond area where the art is to be reassembled is nearly done. If all goes as hoped, completion and dedication of the mural in its new home is anticipated in mid-2024.

The Harbor of Dreams Foundation donation was offered as a matching grant to be applied to donations to the Nebraska State Historical Society website or to the foundation through Give to Lincoln Day.

“To say we are excited is an understatement,” said Shea-McCoy.


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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.