August 8, 2017

University of Iowa Approves Plans for New Art Museum

IOWA CITY, IOWA—The University of Iowa has received permission from the Iowa Board of Regents to begin construction on a new building for its Museum of Art, reports Paul Brennan for Little Village. Since the university’s original museum sustained significant flood damage in summer 2008, a portion of the museum’s 14,000-piece collection has since been housed at the university’s Iowa Memorial Union and the nearby Figge Art Museum in Davenport. The new UIMA is expected to open in late 2019 at a cost of $50 million, which will be raised through private donations.

The University of Iowa Musuem of Art holds works from Braque, Picasso, Matisse, and American artists Grant Wood, Joan Mitchell, Stuart Davis, and Mark Rothko, as well as ancient and contemporary works from Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In total, the museum’s collection is valued at over $500 million, of which Mural, a twenty-foot long Jackson Pollock painting from 1943, comprises $100 million. Prominent works from the collection, including the Pollock painting, have been on loan to other art institutions while the UIMA building has been closed.

Following the 2008 floods, the Federal Emergency Management Agency disqualified the museum from receiving disaster relief funds, as the structure was deemed intact and suitable for use. However, the existing UIMA building sits in a 500-year floodplain, which prevents any works of art exhibited or stored there from being properly insured. The new building will be an elevated plinth located outside the floodplain.

UIMA interim director Jim Leach said in a statement, “The University of Iowa is an arts-centric institution. Symbolized by the university’s long-standing support of the Writer’s Workshop and International Writing Program, and its recent investment in four architecturally acclaimed venues for the performing arts, art history, studio arts, and music, the commitment to build a new museum for a wondrous art collection underscores Iowa City’s case to be considered a Capital of Heartland Culture.” He added, “the new museum is likely to become a destination museum for the region, and even for some people around the country.”

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