The Samuel Bak Academic Learning Center was officially approved by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents at their meeting on Friday, April 9and is scheduled to launch in 2022 following approval from the Nebraska Coordinating Commission on Postsecondary Education (CCPE) this May.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha was recently gifted more than 500 works of art by Samuel Bak, spanning seventy-five years of his prolific life, to establish the Samuel Bak museum. The UNO museum will house the world’s largest collection of original paintings, drawings, and sketches by Bak, encompassing the full range of his artistic vision and process, from preliminary sketches to completed works, with everything in-between.
With this foundational gift, UNO will create an academic learning center dedicated to this work focused on scholarship, academic curricula, and community engagement. The Samuel Bak Academic Learning Center and Museum will be a collaborative organization facilitating synergies across colleges, academic programs, K-12 schools, community partners, and other higher education institutions. It will be a place where critically important conversations can occur about human rights, genocide, the Holocaust, and other important themes, such as the history of art, environmental destruction, justice, and vulnerability of children, among others.
The center builds on existing programs such as the Sam and Frances Fried Holocaust and Genocide Academy, the Leonard and Shirley Goldstein Center for Human Rights, the Nathan and Hannah Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies, and the future Ted Kooser Center for Health Humanities. It will also foster relationships with the Nebraska Arts Council, Joslyn Art Museum, Houston Holocaust Museum, and Samuel Bak Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania, among others.
The establishment of the center comes on the heels of prior collaborative programming including a 2019 exhibition, “WITNESS: The Art of Samuel Bak;” an “Arts and Human Rights” symposium hosted by the Fried Academy and the Leonard and Shirley Goldstein Center for Human Rights; and hosting the second biannual meeting of the National Higher Education Consortium of Directors of Centers in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies.
A permanent location for the center and the museum has not yet been determined.