Jerry and Margaret Nerman (along with their son Lewis) are among the area’s most prominent collectors of contemporary art. Jerry Nerman often expresses his collecting philosophy as “the three s’s” – search, secure, and share. And the Nerman family frequently host visitors to their homes to view their collection.
Construction of the approximately $15 million Nerman Museum was realized through Johnson County Community College funding, with support from the Nerman Family, the M.R. & Evelyn Hudson Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Marti & Tony Oppenheimer, Richard I. & Jeanne S. Galamba, Barton P. & Mary D. Cohen, Dean E. Thompson, Irma Starr, Carl & Lee McCaffree, Jim & Mary Tearney, and Joseph & Margery Lichtor.
The elegant, minimalist building was designed by architect Kyu Sung Woo and is clad in Kansas limestone. Throughout the museum’s two levels are ten expansive galleries for temporary exhibitions and the permanent collection. Additionally, the museum houses the 200 seat Hudson Auditorium, Café Tempo, two classrooms, a Museum Store, a New Media Gallery, and art storage and preparation spaces. The museum boasts two lobbies – the impressive Cantilever Entrance (featuring a dazzling 60,000 white LED installation by artist Leo Villareal) and the glass and metal Atrium Lobby.
The museum’s permanent collection consists of works gifted by Marti and Tony Oppenheimer and the Oppenheimer Brothers Foundation. Art from Johnson County Community College’s Permanent Collection (acquired largely through JCCC’s annual acquisition fund) supplement the Oppenheimer Collection on view in the permanent collection galleries.
Frommer's cited the Nerman as a significant cultural attraction when they listed Kansas City as one of their top 10 world travel destinations for 2012.
In April 2006, Public Art Review magazine named JCCC one of the top 10 university/college campuses for public art in America, citing the outdoor sculpture and the paintings, ceramics, photography and works on paper installed throughout the campus.