The MRB Lewis and Clark Visitor’s Center in Nebraska City has just become the recipient of an oil painting entitled “Lewis and Clark Expedition-1804” by Central City artist, Todd Williams.  
The painting, sponsored by the Nelson Family Foundation, was one of 123 Legacy of Nebraska paintings created by Williams in honor of Nebraska’s 150th (sesquicentennial) Anniversary in 2017.  Williams painted one or more painting for each county in Nebraska.  Williams came up with the idea to create a painting for each county and he visited with Michael Smith, the Director of the Nebraska State Historical Society about it in 2012.  Smith   was enthusiastic about the idea, saying depending on when Williams finished it could work out well with Nebraska’s Sesquicentennial celebration.  Smith referred Williams to  Nebraska Statehood 150, and Williams said everything fell together so naturally, it almost seemed meant to be.  He actually began painting in the fall of 2011, and wrapped up the five year project with the completion of the last painting in October 2016.
In preparation for painting, Williams traveled to each county, taking pictures and talking to local historical societies or historians about notable locations and events in that county.  He said he already had specific ideas in mind for some of the counties, and something to do with Lewis and Clark was an obvious choice for Otoe County.
Williams came to the MRB Lewis and Clark Center and took pictures of the replica boat outside the Center, as well as the models in cases downstairs to work from.  He began doing drawings from those pictures, and checked back with Doug Friedli often to ensure his details were realistic.  The painting itself is an oil painting in impressionist style, and Williams said he tried to be as historically accurate as possible, while creating a “romanticized version of history” in his painting.
After drawings were completed, Williams manipulated them on the computer, looking for the right size and placement, then began painting, Alla Prima, or “wet into wet”, meaning once started the paint was kept wet and worked through until finished.  
Once the painting was completed, the sponsoring organization, the Nelson Family Foundation, donated it to the MRB Lewis and Clark Center, with the understanding that it would be made available for the Sesquicentennial traveling exhibit.
The painting will hang at the MRB Lewis and Clark Center until it (and the rest of the paintings from each county) begin the traveling tour on March 1, when that exhibit opens at the State Historical Museum in Lincoln.  A schedule of each stop on the traveling exhibit tour will be available on the Nebraska Statehood 150 website:, and a photo of each of the paintings is available on Williams’ website:
Several of the paintings have made it into calendars over the last 3 years, and those calendars have been sold/are for sale.  A commemorative collection art book of the paintings will be published and available on March 1, 2017.  Williams will also create limited edition, signed and numbered reproductions of the paintings, that will sell for $300-$600, and those reproductions will be available in 2017.  
For now, the painting can be viewed at the MRB Lewis and Clark Visitor’s Center until it goes on tour in March of 2017, and once the travelling exhibit is finished, the painting will be returned to the Center.