The interior of the new Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

The new center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln contains the name of one of Nebraska’s favorite, best-known sons.

The Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts opened for 2019-20 classes Monday, the first day of classes throughout the NU system.

UNL expects the Carson Center and its contents to give new meaning to the term “state of the art.”

Benjamin Reichle of St. Helena, Nebraska, was one of the students who helped break in the Carson Center. He had a class there Monday morning.

“It’s brand new,” Reichle said. “It’s got a lot going for it.”

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It’s a good place for him to work toward his goal of writing and directing animated films. Of course that could change. This was, after all, his first day of college.

Emerging media arts include filmmaking, game design, special effects, virtual reality, animation and other processes that use hot, new resources such as wearable technology and sonic and sensory media. The renovated building is at 13th and Q Streets in Lincoln.

Preparations for the center began four years ago with a $20 million gift from the Johnny Carson Foundation. Carson, who died in 2005, was one of the most successful comedians and talk show hosts in television history. He spent much of his childhood in Norfolk, Nebraska, and graduated from UNL.

Gus Schmedlen, a vice president with HP Inc., said the center is an official research site for HP-Educause’s Campus of the Future program. That means the center is one of about 15 places at universities across the country that will do research using the new technology and help determine how best to apply it for teaching.

Schmedlen said UNL is the only university in the Big Ten with that designation. “It’s one of the places we know will be at the forefront,” he said. “People are expecting supercool things to happen.” Educause has placed some of HP’s virtual reality technology into the UNL Carson Center.

The center is part of UNL’s Carson School of Theatre and Film in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. The Carson school’s film and new media curriculum will be among the programs based in the facility.

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