Tag Archives: durham museum

Visiting the Netherworlds in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

20 Jun
A visitor watches film clips of director James Cameron seen in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though I live in Siouxland, a region that is part of what is affectionately or not affectionately known as flyover country, there are a number of museums, large and small, which one can visit and enjoy traveling exhibits, both visually and educationally stimulating.

Currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE is the exhibit James Cameron — Challenging the Deep. Film director Cameron put together various crews to explore the worlds under the sea including the Titanic and the battleship Bismark allowing Cameron to share his passion and interest with the deep ocean by creating an immersive exhibit using large video screen displays to show visitors what he and others saw beneath the ocean depth, in some place 10,000 meters deep, or almost 10.5 Empire State buildings stacking on top of one another.

A visitor watches a film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Costumes from the movie “Titanic” seen juxtaposed with film of the actual Titanic that director James Cameron filmed during a deep sea exploration and seen at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a model of the Titanic as it appears underwater on display that is seen in some of the videos showing the exploration of the ship that Cameron and others recorded. The director’s fascination with the deep ocean evidently started when he was a young child and he nurtured that desire to explore as he followed his career path as a film director. Some of the problem solving in filming movies, such as the Abyss, helped Cameron realize what might be possible as he collaborated with experts in the field of under water exploration.

A mock version of the “Titanic” on display at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Informational panels explain that director James Cameron held a long fascination since childhood about the sea and is told in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Items on display used in filming some of the deep sea exploration seen at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through the use of underwater recording technology and deep ocean submersible vessels Cameron and others explore the deep, and film themselves exploring the deep which gives the exhibit viewer an idea of how this was all made possible at such incredible depths, with Cameron narrating what is being seen and how it was made possible.

And the exhibit in some ways becomes more interesting by the fact that its entire area is bathed in deep blue light or blackness, resembling what the various individuals must have encountered themselves as they dove deep to explore areas of the ocean not seen by many but now accessible to all through this exhibition.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Visitors watch film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and Shade in Siouxland, Le Mars and Omaha, NE

8 Dec
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will sometimes have students in class through the Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech tell me that they couldn’t find subjects to photograph or that the weather was not cooperating. Photography is a perfect example of the adage of making lemonade out of lemons.

Even in Siouxland one sometimes has to shift gears and think differently about subject matter to photograph. I find reverting back to shooting black and images helpful because seeing becomes more fundamental, reduced to lights and darks, lines, shapes and angles. Color or lack or too much of it doesn’t matter. Weather though can have an impact if one is looking to create certain images. Strong light is a must, but a person must take the time to see a bit differently and maybe more abstractly than when shooting in color.

Light and shade in Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When photographing in black and white it’s all about shades of grey. For me it’s less grey and more strident blacks and whites. But one does what one can with what’s available. And even in today’s digital age there are the tools available to create decent black and white images. I believe it’s more in the seeing, of possibilities, than what is before you. I began my career photographing for newspapers shooting Kodak’s famous Tri-X film. In the vernacular of the day it was “f/8 and be there” which I heard from more than one newspaper photographer. At an ISO of 400, Tri-X was a moderately fast film and shooting outdoors in daylight one generally was at f/8 at 1/2000 on a sunny day. Shadows were a major concern because in the day fill flash didn’t have hypersync capabilities and the old Nikon F camera’s only flash synced at 1/60th of a second or slower.

Light and shade in Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So one became very conscious of how light and shade affected subjects be they people, buildings, landscapes or whatever. I still really enjoy black and white, but am happy to shoot color. Each has its place. Photographing fall foliage and Christmas lights is so much nicer, as are fireworks. But black and white can still be very effective and rewarding. One just needs to look for it and see it in this world of color.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up with the Muppets in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

2 Dec
A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s most likely a generational thing that different people, even in Siouxland, remember becoming aware of different Muppet characters. I was surprised to learn that Jim Henson began his great Muppet caper in 1958. And entertained people of all ages for decades with the antics of these lovable characters.

Many people are aware the Muppets through a decades long appearance on public television, with many people growing up with these characters. And it was fascinating to read and see how Henson and his crew brought these lovable characters to life and pays tribute to his forward thinking and innovation in creating movie spectaculars that seem so real. And currently an exhibit about Jim Henson and Muppets is at the Durham Museumand organized by the Museum of the Moving Image.

Kermit the Frog takes center place in a part of the exhibit currently in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Bert and Ernie still chatting away. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
One can only show a candy wrapper or cookie at their own risk walking by the Cookie Monster’s display. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not to mention the ever ongoing love affair between Kermit and Miss Piggy, even if it was only Miss Piggy who knew this and the hapless suitor, Kermit, who could never quite figure out what was going on. The Muppets have been in 10’s if not hundreds of shows. A stop by Durham Museum is well worth the time, and an early timed arrival during the week beats a crowd.

TV was not the only medium where the Muppets came to fame. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A visual feast of Jim Henson’s Muppet activity over the years seen during a current show in progress which traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Henson and his collaborators and crew spent the time to perfect the Muppets movements to make them as lifelike as possible. Behind the scenes footage show this taking place and leaves one marveling at what was involved and the energy and spirit folk put into creating this productions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple watch part of a film created by Jim Henson and his collaborators showing the virtuosity of the films that were made during an exhibit about Jim Henson and the Muppets currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Rowl, left, performed by Henson and Frank Oz, was a sidekick to Jimmy Dean on his show. An early Jim Henson creation. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Choosing an Image in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

14 Nov

When out photographing in and around Siouxland I am conscious most times of making images I think will work best for the subject. And more often I photograph in color.

The students I teach photograph in color and it’s how they see. But I do make them think about taking photos in B&W and choosing what works well for the subject and image they want. And sometimes choosing becomes a no-brainer. Some images just stand out in one medium, and then get lost in the translation when choosing another.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A train bell on display at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A train bell on display at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Waiting for Halloween in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

29 Oct
The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Halloween in Siouxland like many holidays has taken on a life of its own and gives people a chance to enjoy a day guilt free. Visiting the Durham Museum recently which is located in Omaha, NE, the museum was decked out in anticipation of the yearly event.

The Durham Museum decked out with various scary scenarios for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ghouls, ghosts and skeletons were found in various places throughout. And on occasion some guests added to the atmosphere for a spook festival that occurs Oct. 31. It’s always fun to see how places celebrate holidays and the Durham didn’t disappoint.

The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A visitor makes a nice apparition while checking out an exhibit at the Durham Museum which is decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And while the adults didn’t get to indulge, there were goody bags for the kids, always in my humble opinion one of the best aspects of Halloween as a child. Candy may not settle the stomach after a good scare, but it doesn’t hurt either.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shadows of strangers seen during a visit to the Durham Museum which is decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Simple Images in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

20 Mar

A street car on display at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, March 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes as the saying goes (KISS), it’s a good dictum to follow. I find myself trying to always tell a story with the photos I share but realize that some photos are of themselves something simple, no storyline, just a moment’s glance and pondering of what I have seen. Good, bad or indifferent, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And then there is that bonus when colors magically coordinate.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A saffron finch perched inside an indoor area at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographing in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

1 Apr

Descending stairs at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Station, in Omaha, NE Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes as one pursues his/hers photographic interests or various endeavors, clicking the shutter can be a leap of faith. Going somewhere while making images but not really certain where that somewhere will lead them.

I enjoy creating images with light and shade. The two work hand in hand to help create an image. To me at times the images can be intriguing and ambiguous, and at other times pretty straight forward.

But unless one clicks the shutter and captures a moment to share with others, one may never know. One foot in front of the other and one click of the shutter at a time. Following the light into the darkness and vice versa. And I guess it is as some folk say, it’s not the destination, but the journey.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Wistful Christmas Memories in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha

6 Mar

Celebrating Christmas in a big way at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Station, in Omaha, NE Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Although spring will officially start soon here in Siouxland, winter still has its grip on the region with air temperatures hovering just above zero and for a few days below zero without any windchill. Which makes me a little wistful for the Christmas holiday season because it was relatively “warm”, all things considered at the moment. It’s hard when cabin fever sets in and one wants to get out and photograph, but that darn cold air somewhat takes the fun out of it.

When visiting the Durham Museum this past December there was a magnificent Christmas tree on display. And looking at a photograph doesn’t quite give it justice, unless of course there are people seen in the photo.

Perspective sometimes gives one pause, like seeing a giant Christmas Tree at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Station, in Omaha, NE Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy the re-enacted scenes in bronze that grace various areas around the what was the grand hall or waiting room at the former Union Station in Omaha, NE. And enjoy it even more when serendipity allows one to capture life imitating art imitating life. Sometimes it’s just good to be lucky.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Feeling at home with a display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Station, in Omaha, NE Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying History near Siouxland, a Union Railway Station, Omaha, NE

8 Dec

The Durham Museum was formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are so many facets of history that sometimes its easy to overlook particular pieces of it, even when it’s not so easy to overlook once you are aware. On a recent outing to Omaha, NE with some friends, we visited the Durham Museum which used to be a Union Railway Station.

The entry hall or main waiting area of the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station, dwarfs visitors now as then, seen in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

To say the least, the place is magnificent and utterly gorgeous. We traveled to the Museum to see a current showing of a wildlife photographer’s work which was very impressive. But once one walked into the station it was hard to keep moving toward the exhibit housed there. A brochure says for a station to be a union station it required a train depot to serve more than one railroad line. And evidently during its heyday this station served the Union Pacific, Chicago & Northwestern, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Illinois Central System, the Missouri Pacific and the Wabash Railway. And small scenes of recreated history as well as plaques informing a visitor abounded about the place.

A few replica scenarios show what the Union Station’s original purpose are on display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A few replica scenarios show what the Union Station’s original purpose are on display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, a hub of action during the Second World War, and now the Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find it hard to imagine the hustle and bustle that must have been happening in this station. I have not been to New York’s Grand Central Station or other still functioning railway stations so I have no sense of the enormity of the number of people gathered in one place just passing through.

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, now Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, now Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bronze scenes help give a sense of what might have occurred at the time and is a pleasant little scene for families to take photographs around while visiting. I would think it would in the day have been easy to have gotten lost or separated from companions. But not so much today. It’s a grand place to reflect on changing demographics and transportation modes but truly filled with history that anyone can appreciate.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A few replica scenarios show what the Union Station’s original purpose are on display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, now Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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