University of Iowa to break ground on $50 million art museum
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — After 11 years without a home for its art collection, the University of Iowa announced a groundbreaking ceremony for a new art museum building at 3 p.m. on June 7 in Gibson Square Park.
The $50 million project represents the final structure to be rebuilt since the university started reconstructing what was lost in the 2008 flood, according to a release.
Construction of the museum is scheduled to start this fall and the university hopes to celebrate its opening in 2022.
“It feels fantastic,” Stanley Museum of Art Director Lauren Lessing told the Iowa City Press-Citizen while sitting in the office of the Old Musem of Art, the university’s original museum building completed in 1969.
She recalled watching a broadcast of the 2008 flood showing images of students picking up sandbags with a gloomy outlook predicted for the university’s future.
Years later, after seeing the energy put into keeping the museum alive despite the challenges, she said it almost feels like they’re the ones lifting those sandbags.
Since the museum safely removed its collection 11 years ago, the institution has displayed pieces in museums across Iowa and around the globe.
The university’s most well-known painting, Jackson Pollack’s Mural, for example, has been to the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles and to museums in Italy, Germany and England as well as the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.
The Iowa Memorial Union has also maintained a space for a small percentage of the museum’s artwork, but the majority of the collection is being stored in several locations.
“It’s been a long wait, but in just a few years we will be able to bring the Stanley’s world-class collections home to support the education of UI students and to enrich the lives of people across our state,” she said.
There are several aspects Lessing is particularly excited about, in addition to the building itself. First, the new museum will have space to store its entire collection, and secondly, it will be designed to serve the needs of a 21st-century art museum.
“The old building was designed as a jewel box,” Lessing said. “The new space will be a laboratory and a social space.”
Although the old building is about 72,000 square feet, bigger than the new building’s 60,000 square feet, it wasn’t built to hold events for teaching, performance and engagement.
The director said museum staff is seeking ways to connect with organizations such as Film Scene, local schools and other museums such as the Figge.
As for engagement, It will offer the ability for people to request to see any item they’re interested in. For example, Lessing said if someone was interested in artist Grant Wood’s drawings, they could make an appointment to have them taken out of storage and view them.
“It’s art that belongs to every citizen here,” she said. “And we work for them.”
The museum continues fundraising for its new structure and has committed to raising half of the $50 million total. The other half will be funded by University of Iowa Facility Corporation Bonds.
Richard and Mary Jo Stanley, of Muscatine, donated $10 million to the project in December of 2017, a gift which the museum honored with the renaming of the institution.
With donations from more than 344 donors, it’s raised $20 million so far. Lessing said she’s confident the museum will raise their half in time.
Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/