KEARNEY — Even before current events necessitated the canceling of the social portions of “Spirit: A Celebration of Art in the Heartland,” the staff at the Museum of Nebraska Art already had arranged for online bidding.

“This year we were going with an online bidding service,” said Gina Garden, marketing director for the museum. “The text bidding and online bidding were already in place. That has provides us with a great opportunity to continue with the auction, while meeting in spirit only.”

Once every two years, art patrons gather in Kearney to celebrate the visual arts in the state. “Spirit: A Celebration of Art in the Heartland” offers patrons a chance to meet artists and an opportunity for the artists to better understand the people who purchase and appreciate their work. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, Garden has changed some aspects of the event.

“This is a really good opportunity for people from all across the state to come to Kearney to see what we have to offer, both locally and at MONA,” Garden said. “That obviously won’t be taking place this year. However, we still have the opportunity to showcase Nebraska artists and art, which is part of our mission.”

The online auction features more than 150 artworks by approximately 50 Nebraska artists. Bidding will begin at 8 a.m. April 3, and continue through noon April 17. Patrons can use a “Buy It Now” feature in addition to the traditional incremental bidding associated with an auction.

A wide variety of media and price points are available for paintings, sculpture, fiber works, ceramic pieces and assemblages.

Photographs of the artwork will be available starting Friday at

“Everyone is able to go to that website and see all the items that are for sale, as well as the opening bid and the ‘Buy It Now’ price,” Garden noted. “Starting at 8 a.m. on April 3, the bidding and the buying will begin. It continues through April 17. Bidding is very simple. If you place a bid — and you are sitting on your couch in your pajamas — and someone places a higher bid, you will get a notification and you can decide if you want to continue to bid or not.”

The artists receive 60 percent of the sale price and the Museum of Nebraska Art uses 40 percent to help fund daily operations.

“This helps the artists financially while giving an opportunity for patrons to see what is being produced by artists with Nebraska ties,” she said.

Spirit usually attracts several hundred art patrons and artists to a gala dinner and auction in a tent outside the museum.

“There are always challenges when organizing any event, but this is truly a unique one,” Garden said in a press release. “We are pleased we can still offer everyone the opportunity to see the Spirit artworks and make purchases online.”

Spirit helps the museum to fulfill its mission to celebrate the history of Nebraska’s visual art for diverse audiences and exhibit the work of artists with Nebraska ties or who created artworks that reflect the culture of Nebraska.

All interested parties can see the artworks, place bids and make purchases at by March 27. Any questions about the process may be directed to 308-865-8559.