Artistry lives and breathes in the Greater Omaha, Council Bluffs and Lincoln area, which is evident in the spectacular artwork found all over the region. Not only are we home to the Joslyn Art Museum and the Sheldon Museum of Art, each of which houses thousands of works of art from all over the world, but our area boasts incredible art galleries, art festivals and public art installations.
If you’re looking to get a taste of culture in the region—we’ve got you covered! Read on to find the best local art walks, tours and events that will help you celebrate creativity all year long.
Monthly + Seasonal Art Walks | Self-Guided Art Tours | Annual Art Events
Monthly + Seasonal Art Walks
Monthly on the First Friday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m.
Photo courtesy of Emerald Photo Company via Benson First Friday
Head over to Benson and explore everything this unique neighborhood has to offer! On the first Friday of every month, peruse art from local artists, step into boutiques and shops that will be open late, or grab a drink while listening to live music throughout the area. Check out this month’s map of events and start planning your evening’s itinerary.
Monthly on the First Friday, 6-9 p.m.
Held in the massively popular neighborhood of Old Market, this monthly first Friday event celebrates local creativity and artistry. Galleries are open late, giving you the chance to meet with local artists and, perhaps, take home a one-of-a-kind piece. During First Friday Old Market, parking is completely free! We recommend parking behind the Creighton Physicians Clinic and hopping aboard Ollie the Trolley, which will give you a unique view of the neighborhood as you ride to your first gallery stop.
Monthly on the First Friday, 5-10 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Downtown Lincoln
Lincoln’s First Friday Artwalks are held on the first Friday of every month at galleries and businesses in Downtown Lincoln. There’s a full map of participating vendors for each month, located on the Downtown Lincoln website, with the majority of participating businesses located from 7th to 17th Streets. If you don’t feel like traversing the city on foot—you can rent a bike at a nearby Bike LNK station!
Seasonally, 5-9 p.m.
Held once every season, Ashland’s Artwalk is always an eclectic mix of visual delights, interesting conversations, intimate music and tasty treats. Local galleries and businesses are open late in historic Downtown Ashland, with some offering snacks, live music and other fun things to do and see when you stop by.
Self-Guided Art Tours
In Downtown Omaha, you can find art in the most surprising of places—from the 100 individual bronze pieces in Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Parks to Fertile Ground, one of the largest public murals in the country. You don’t have to be an expert on Omaha to see the best of our downtown’s art scene, you just need an app!
The Public Art Omaha app is available on all major app platforms and will show you the nearest piece of public art when you’re standing downtown, and, of course, will give you plenty of cool facts. If you’re looking to follow a more guided tour, check out Public Art Omaha’s printable art walk brochure, which will map out all of the must-see pieces in Omaha and show you how to get there!
Council Bluffs is home to some truly spectacular public art sites, which you can experience on a self-guided tour! Just download the Otocast app to easily locate the Iowa West Public Art Sites and follow the map to Bayliss Park, Big Mo, Circus, Haymarket Rabbits, Interstate and plenty more inspired art installations around the city.
The City of Lincoln Public Art has strategically placed art pieces throughout the city to inspire residents and make our city a more beautiful place to live! Around town, you can find everything from long-standing statues to temporary art projects such as the Tour de Lincoln or lightbulb sculptures. You can find the full list of art installations (and an interactive map!) on the Public Art Lincoln website.
Annual Art Events
The Rockbrook Village Art Fair has been a staple in the Omaha area since 1971, giving local creatives a place to showcase their unique talent and work. In September, head over to Rockbrook Village and enjoy perusing goods from over 100 artists from all across the country. In addition to fabulous art—including painting, jewelry, photography, sculptures, wood carvings and more—there will also be a food court and specials at local fine dining restaurants.
Omaha’s second annual Chalk Art Festival will return to Farnam Street in Midtown Crossing this year! Throughout the September weekend, local artists will transform sidewalks into pastel chalk masterpieces. In addition to watching the artists work, you can also enjoy live music, grab some lunch, and browse your favorite neighborhood shops.
For over six years, the Southwest Iowa Art Tour has been promoting local artists and galleries in the Southwest Iowa area. This year, the tour will feature over 80 artists and 16 gathering places in Red Oak, Malvern, Macedonia, Oakland, Avoca, Shenandoah, Sidney, Neola, Tabor, Harlan, Glenwood and Council Bluffs! Participants are encouraged to chart their own course and take their time traversing the area, all while making sure to visit some of the great businesses and eateries along the way—and discovering the phenomenal art and artists in Southwest Iowa.
The Lincoln Arts Festival is the best place to enjoy all of the amazing art Lincoln has to offer. This year, the event is moving to Downtown Lincoln and partnering with even more local organizations including Lincoln Calling, Play on P, Streets Alive, Lincoln Children’s Museum, the Nebraska History Museum and plenty more. So head to downtown and experience four blocks full of fun, family-friendly activities!
The Omaha Summer Arts Festival showcases all forms of artwork—from canvas painting to face painting, and live music to sculpting. Each year welcomes more than a hundred of the nation’s finest artists to present their work. Plus, there’s always a hands-on children’s fair, so you can bring the whole family out to celebrate!
This annual street festival is held in Downtown Benson and works to highlight performance and visual arts from Omaha’s refugee and immigrant communities. Each year, you can expect live music, workshops, dance performances, visual art collaborations win local galleries and a street artist market!
Have Fun Exploring Omaha’s Artsy Side!
Did we miss your favorite art event in the Omaha, Council Bluffs and Lincoln area? Let us know in the comments!