By Dawn Wilson
If you don’t have time to visit the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. or even to take a trip to the Durham Museum, you can still satisfy your creative side by wandering around the McGoogan Library. Many of the same photographs that are on exhibit at the Library of Congress and at the Durham can also be found on permanent display at our Library. Dr. Charles W. Guildner, who graduated from UNMC in 1957, donated photographs from his “Lives of Tradition” collection to the Library. Dr. Guildner took up photography after he retired as an anesthesiologist.
The photographs, focusing on rural Nebraska, ranches in the Midwest, and the people who live and work there, are displayed on walls and in study rooms throughout both the 6th and 7th floors of the Library. Although the photographs are contemporary—they were taken over a seventeen year period, starting in 1990—they have a timeless and almost antiquated feel. The black and white images of unspoilt farming landscapes, showcasing people who still rely on ranching techniques that have changed little over the past two centuries, show little of the bustle of modern life and technological dependency found in the city. Instead, you will see timeless blizzards, farming using “six-abreast” horse teams, and men and women working at the hand-hewn ranch buildings built generations ago by their families.
On his website (www.guildner-photo.com), Dr. Guildner says he focused on “finding and recording people who are living and working in characteristic ways that have changed little since the settling of the heartland of this country.”
Each of the photographs on display in the Library are accompanied by an interpretive plaque where Dr. Guildner explains the scenes, the humble people, and his impetus for taking the photographs.
If the photographs on display in the Library whet your appetite to see more, you can visit the Durham Museum in downtown Omaha. There, you will find more photographs in the South Gallery, as well as donated camera equipment. Just take your UNMC ID card with you, as admittance for UNMC students, staff, and faculty is free thanks to a partnership between UNMC and the Museum.