“Also,” Laugesen said, “MOA is part of the story of how my husband, Stephen Hume, my stepdaughter, Maiya, and I met.”
Such lasting connections are not uncommon for people in the creative orbit of Madden Leitner and MOA. The museum itself is a family affair. MOA was co-founded in 1982 by Madden Leitner and her parents, Marjorie and John W. Madden, Jr. A commercial real estate magnate, John Madden, 93, grew up steeped in fine art and refined his aesthetic while a youth working at the Joslyn Museum in his hometown, Omaha, Neb.
As a developer inspired by both noblesse oblige and business genius, he saw the value public art brought to his commercial real estate. Starting in the early ‘80s, at Madden properties MOA installed site-specific works: a pride of stone lions outside an office building, a bronze sculpture of Mercury precisely positioned at the apex of a narrowing path so the god’s finger points at the setting sun on Winter Solstice, an Arnaldo Pomodoro sculpture at an intersection.
MOA also developed an enormous natural bowl in the landscape into Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, the region’s largest outdoor concert venue with a capacity of 18,000 people. Fiddler’s Green opened in 1982 with headliner Dan Fogelberg and has hosted summer concert series ever since.