University of Iowa Museum of Art
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The University of Iowa Museum of Art is a visual arts institution that is part of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, United States. It is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and its director is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors.
Since its inception, the UIMA has partnered in many teaching programs and resesrch projects with the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History, and for several decades has sponsored the annual MFA show as well as the faculty exhibitions. Faculty from the SAAH and elsewhere, and graduate students on campus have curated shows at the Museum that are closely linked with their research, courses, and seminars. The teaching mission of the UIMA embraces the curriculum of the University of Iowa and extends throughout the state.
The University of Iowa Museum of Art, established in 1969, has one of the top university art collections in the country. Approximately 14,000 objects constitute diverse collections that include paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, ceramics, textiles, jade and silver.
A number of major art donors contributed to the collection, including Peggy Guggenheim, Owen and Leone Elliott, and Elizabeth M. and C. Maxwell Stanley. The Guggenheim donation includes masterpieces by Pollock, Matta, Seliger, and Rice Pereira. The Elliott Collection includes paintings by Braque, Chagall, De Chirico, Kandinsky, Léger, Marc, Matisse, Picasso, and Vlaminck, among others. The Stanley Collection of African Art is part of one of the most significant collections of African art in the country which today numbers almost 2,000 objects. Other significant areas of the collections include nearly 5,300 prints spanning the history of Western printmaking, several hundred ceramics (primarily American studio ceramics), Pre-Columbian objects as well as groups of ancient Etruscan and Roman art, and Native American ledger drawings.
Two of the most well-known works in the collections were given to the Museum by the School of Art and Art History: Max Beckmann’s triptych, Karneval, purchased by the faculty in 1946, and one of the most famous paintings in the world, Jackson Pollock’s Mural, created in 1943 for Peggy Guggenheim, which she gave to the School in 1951. Significant paintings by Robert Motherwell, Lyonel Feininger, Maurice Prendergast, Alexej von Jawlensky, Joan Miró, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Grant Wood, Philip Guston, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Diebenkorn, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Arthur Dove, Giorgio Morandi, Mark Rothko, Miriam, and Sam Gilliam, as well as sculptural/3-D works by Louise Nevelson, Sol Lewitt, Mark di Suvero, Beverly Pepper, Henry Moore, Marcel Duchamp, Lil Picard, Alexander Calder, Peter Voulkos, and George Rickey add to the museum's offerings.
Building the Museum
In the early 1960s, Owen and Leone Elliott of Cedar Rapids, Iowa offered the University their extensive collection of 20th-century paintings, prints, antique silver, and jade on the condition that a Museum be built to house their gift, along with the University's existing and future acquisitions of art. In response to this challenge, more than 2000 individuals and businesses contributed funds for the Museum's construction.
The UIMA opened in 1969, although the art collections of the University of Iowa predate the Museum of Art by several decades. During the 1940s and 1950s, the University's School of Art and Art History presented exhibitions of contemporary art and acquired works from these exhibitions. Many of the Museum's most important paintings were acquired during these years, including Max Beckmann's Karneval, and Joan Miró's 1939 A Drop of Dew Falling from the Wing of a Bird Awakens Rosalie Asleep in the Shade of a Cobweb. Jackson Pollock's Mural was given to the University by Peggy Guggenheim in 1953.
A gift from the late industrialist Roy Carver, of Muscatine, Iowa, made possible the construction of a major addition, which opened in 1976 and housed the University of Iowa Foundation and the University of Iowa Alumni Association in addition to portions of the Museum. Maxwell and Elizabeth Stanley also of Muscatine, collected African art throughout the 1970s and in 1979; most of their collection came to the Museum.
The Alumni Association and UI Foundation moved out in 1999, leaving the entire 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) of the building to the Museum of Art. In the summer of 2003, the long-awaited renovation of the former Alumni Center, or north wing, of the building began. Nearly 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) of the building was gutted and substantial changes were made to the mechanical systems and spaces in the basement as well. The kitchens, offices, meeting rooms, etc. left behind by the UI Foundation and Alumni Association became galleries, store rooms, and work spaces.
The North Gallery for Special Exhibitions debuted in the Fall of 2004, along with a remodeled Lasansky Room and the Nancy and Craig Willis Atrium (shown below). The old Print Study Room was converted into the Hoover-Paul Gallery for Works on Paper. The North Gallery added an additional 6,000 square feet (560 m2) of exhibition space to the Museum for a total of 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) for exhibitions.
In June 2008, the UIMA was flooded and forced to evacuate its collections. Working nearly non-stop during the week of June 9, the Museum staff, art movers, and volunteers evacuated artworks totaling approximately 99 percent of the value of the collection before the floodwaters forced the closure of the UIMA on Friday, June 13.
In the weeks following the flood, the remaining art was evacuated to join the rest of the collection in secure art storage in Chicago. Meanwhile, the UIMA worked to secure alternative locations on- and off-campus to make the art accessible to its public.
In January 2009, the Figge Art Museum in Davenport offered the UIMA space in its building for storage and exhibitions until a permanent home on the UI campus became available. In March, the UIMA began moving its collection to the Figge. In July, the Museum finished its initial inventory of the objects.
Overall, about 200 objects needed some form of treatment by the conservators at Chicago Conservation Center because of the flood. Nearly all have been cared for and are now in storage at the Figge. UIMA works already slated for conservation before the flood — mainly African objects — will remain in Chicago to receive the treatment they require.
Display of collections
After the Iowa flood of 2008, the Museum building was permanently evacuated. The collections were moved out in time and today most are temporarily located in the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, fifty miles from Iowa City.
In August 2009, the UIMA opened a new on-campus art venue, the "UIMA@IMU," a 4,000-square-foot (370 m2) visual classroom in the Iowa Memorial Union that houses more than 500 works of art from the collections. selected specifically to meet classroom needs. The "UIMA@IMU" was funded almost entirely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition, objects from the African art collections are located in the Stanley Gallery of the Levitt Center for University Advancement. Currently, some 3,000 works of art are displayed and/or stored on the university campus. The remaining 11,000 items are mostly stored (some on exhibition) at the Figge Art Museum.
Current Exhibit Locations
- UIMA@IMU at the Iowa Memorial Union, 125 North Madison Street, 3rd floor
- Black Box Theater at the Iowa Memorial Union, 125 North Madison Street
- Legacies for Iowa Gallery at the Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second St., Davenport, IA
- Studio Arts Building - Museum offices only, 1375 Highway 1 West, 1840 SA, Iowa City
In August 2009, UI President Sally Mason announced the formation of an Envisioning Committee for the UIMA. Composed of community members, UI faculty, and UI students, the Committee is charged with evaluating best practices for university and college art museums and thinking about how the UIMA can best serve the needs of its constituents moving forward. The Envisioning Committee delivered its report in early 2010.
As part of its mission during this period, the Museum continues to:
- Build and preserve its art collection;
- Present significant exhibitions in Iowa City and across the State of Iowa;
- Offer K-12 programming for thousands of Iowa students each year;
- Create opportunities for UI students and faculty, including access to works from the UIMA collection;
- Provide free community programming including openings, lectures, and readings.
The University is committed to building an architecturally significant new Museum building to replace the building flooded in 2008. This new building is part of the re-envisioning of the arts on campus. The new building will house the Museum’s collections and will provide classrooms and labs as a mode of integrating the Museum with the study of the visual arts and the academic mission of the University.
Chief executive officers of the UIMA since its founding in 1969:
- Dr. Sean O'Harrow, 2010–Present (former Executive Director of the Figge Art Museum)
- Mr. Willard L. Boyd, Interim Director 2010 (former President of the University of Iowa and of the Field Museum)
- Dr. Pamela White, Interim Director 2008-2010 (former Director of the Pentacrest Museums at the University of Iowa)
- Dr. Howard Creel Collinson, 2000-2008 (former Mona Campbell Curator in the department of Western art and culture at the Royal Ontario Museum)
- Dr. Stephen Prokopoff, 1992-2000 (former Director of the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois and former Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago)
- Ms. Mary K. Lyman, Acting Co-Director 1990-1991, Interim Director 1991-1992
- Ms. Mary Roberts Kujawski, 1988-1991 (formerly of the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois)
- Dr. Robert Hobbs, 1983-1988 (former associate professor at Cornell University and former Chief Curator of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran).
- Dr. Bruce W. Chambers, 1980-1983 (former Chief Curator of the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York)
- Ms. Jan K. Muhlert, 1975-1979 (formerly a curator at the Smithsonian Institution, former director of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and current Director of the Palmer Museum of Art at Pennsylvania State University)
- Mr. Ulfert Wilke, 1968-1975 (former professor at Rutgers University)(Associate Director was Mr. Gustave von Groschwitz, former director of the Carnegie Museum of Art)
Illustrated with images from the permanent art collection, the UIMA's 40th Anniversary book, Building a Masterpiece: Legacy of the University of Iowa Museum of Art, tells the story of the Museum's founding, the people who have enabled the UIMA to carry out its mission to facilitate the experience of art over the years, and UI President Sally Mason's vision for the future. The limited edition book was written for the UIMA by Abigail Foerstner, journalism professor at Northwestern University and author of James Van Allen: The First Eight Billion Miles (University of Iowa Press, 2007) and Picturing Utopia (University of Iowa Press, 2005). 
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