“A symbol of hope” Samuel Bak Museum Opens to the Public


Jenna Janssen

News Editor

A museum displaying the works of renowned artist Samuel Pak opened Saturday. Photo courtesy of Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.

Samuel Bak Museum: The Learning Center at 2289 S 67th St. opened to the public with a grand opening ceremony Saturday. 

The museum features 53 donated works of Samuel Bak — a distinguished artist and Holocaust survivor whose paintings dive into concepts of human rights and genocide — within an exhibition titled “In the Beginning: The Artist Samuel Bak.” 

“Painting is a medium in which you have enormous control,” Bak said. “You are really the playwright, you are the stage designer, you are the actor, you are the director, you do everything.”

UNO displayed Bak’s art in a 2019 exhibition called “Witness: The Art of Samuel Bak,” which received 4,500 visitors. Bak said seeing how his story touched many made him feel welcomed and understood. Bak decided to donate 500 artworks from his collection to UNO as a gift for the touching response. 

The museum’s opening is the first phase in the development of a permanent space on UNO’s campus for Bak’s collection. Phase two, which will be led by Executive Director Hillary Nather-Detisch, will create a permanent museum on UNO’s campus called “The Samuel Bak Museum.” The museum will hold not only Bak’s collection, but also other artists’ work on a rotating basis. It will be home to the Goldstein Center for Human Rights, the Schwalb Center for Israel & Jewish Studies, and the Fried Holocuast & Genocide Studies.

 “The vision is to become a space in a building that houses all kinds of academic collaborative opportunities both across the university and the community, where art becomes the train to dialogue.” Nather-Detishch said. “We are looking at art in a different light than traditionally.”

Bak related his work to the hard-hitting events of the current day as “a symbol of hope that there will be no other catastrophe.”

“I certainly believe that if people hope to save the world, people can save the world,” Bak said.