We learned about the Bone Creek Museum in David City on July 12, 2019 at Lincoln South Rotary Club. Our speaker was Curator Amanda Mobley Guenther.
Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art in David City, NE is the nation’s only exclusively agrarian art museum presenting art that connects people to the land.
Exhibitions and related events such as artist talks, panel discussions, art workshops, poetry readings, humanities presentations, and musical performances  celebrate the heritage and current themes of rural and farm life. David City is the hometown of nationally recognized Regionalist artist Dale Nichols whose work is the heart of the permanent collection.
Amanda provided a great deal of insight into the upcoming exhibit - Braceros: Melding History and Art.
The Bracero Program is a term given to the Mexican Farm Labor Program Agreement between the United States and Mexico. A series of these agreements were signed from 1942 to 1964. The main purpose of the program was to provide guest agricultural workers to harvest crops in the United States to replace citizens who were serving in the U.S. armed forces at the beginning of World War II.
Approximately, 4.5 million contracts were signed, each representing a Mexican worker brought into the United States to harvest crops.Provisions of the program mandated adequate wages, housing, transportation, feeding, and basic medical care for the Braceros.
There were benefits to the Braceros program - both to the workers and the farmers:
- - many Braceros were able to save money to send to their families at home. This enabled many to purchase land or improve their family’s living conditions.
In many communities in the American Southwest,
- - the workers were given transportation on their days off to make purchases, helping the economy of the local communities
- - many Braceros were able to stay in the U.S., continue on as valued members of the workforce, and making their homes in the U.S. at a much higher standard of living often gaining permanent residency
- - the program greatly helped the U.S. feed its people and military; Braceros performed hard, difficult labor for wages which local American laborers would often not accept.
Controversies led to the termination of the Bracero Program - there were reports of unacceptable wages, poor living conditions and inadequate medical care.
Raymond Cobos is a freelance historian and was one of the workers. He was raised in New Mexico but was hired by the farmer next door to translate for the Spanish speaking Braceros.
Raymond was able to share personal experiences and the stories of the Braceros to help the artists create their pieces.
From the website (https://bonecreek.org/):

In 2012 Henry Adams of The Smithsonia blog Articulations described Transcending Regionalism this way:  “One of the most provocative exhibitions in the United States right now was organized by an institution that’s a bit off the beaten track: The Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art in David City, Nebraska…It’s impressive that such a small community has produced an ambitious exhibition and book of this scale, roughly on a par with those produced by America’s largest museums.”

This exhibition brought 2,800 visitors from throughout the nation to David City and involved 600 students. The exhibition toured to:  the Georgia Art Museum, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, and Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

In 2014 AAA Living magazine listed the four top art museums in Nebraska.  They included the Joslyn, Sheldon, Museum of Nebraska Art, and Bone Creek.

The museum has offered 42 exhibitions since 2007.  Examples of artists from beyond the Midwest include Jean Terry who focused on farming in upstate New York.  Canadian artist Denise Lemaster’s exhibition, “Canadian Foothills” was the museum’s first exhibition from beyond U.S. borders.

The museum has drawn visitors from 50 states and 7 countries in its first seven years.  The museum is supported by 292 members representing 30 states. Thirty volunteers serve as board members; educators; docents; receptionists; maintenance staff; and event set-up crews.