History Nebraska Blog

Nebraska Artist Terence Duren's Childhood Desk

This small desk belonged to Nebraska artist Terence Duren. Duren was born in 1904 and lived most of his life in Shelby, Nebraska. Provenance provided with the desk indicates that he used it when he was a child, around the time he started to draw and paint. He later embellished it with painted designs in about 1945.

Duren graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1929 and became known as a muralist after studying at schools in Fountainebleau, France and Vienna, Austria. Duren taught at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and at Western Reserve University, in Cleveland. At the start of World War II, he returned to Shelby, Nebraska, but continued to exhibit work around the country.

In 1944 one of his paintings was chosen for Portrait of America, an exhibition that opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and toured to eight museums across the country. Duren’s other work ranged from opera set design to costumes for a marionette production at the New York World’s Fair. He was also an illustrator, and his work regularly appeared on the cover of the “Magazine of the Midlands,” the Sunday supplement of the Omaha World-Herald. 

History Nebraska has nine works by Terence Duren in its collection.

The desk and hundreds of other objects were recently recataloged and photographed as part of a grant project to rehouse and recatalog furniture and large artifacts in History Nebraska’s collection. You can view this object and more in History Nebraska’s online database.

This project was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, IMLS number MA-30-16-0329-16.


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