VOOM sets UIMA attendance record

Link to University News Services release online here and text below.
University of Iowa News Release

March 13, 2008

High-def video portraits attract recording-breaking attendances at Museum of Art

Attendance for the current University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) exhibition, "VOOM PORTRAITS Robert Wilson," is on pace to become the best-attended contemporary art exhibition in the museum's history. The show has also set a gallery attendance record at CSPS, a nonprofit arts center in Cedar Rapids, which has four portraits on display.

"VOOM," which opened Feb. 2 and runs through March 30, just completed UIMA's biggest weekend in seven years -- 1,090 people visited the museum Saturday and Sunday -- for a total of 8,126 show visitors in just five weeks. At CSPS, total visitor count to date sits at 1,134, for an exhibition total of 9,260.

"'VOOM PORTRAITS' won't run as long as some of the museum's previous 'blockbuster' exhibitions, such as 'Victorian Fairy Painting' or 'Lure of the West,' but we expect it to challenge their figures by the end of its run," UIMA director Howard Collinson said. "It will certainly be in our top five exhibitions overall for attendance."

"Victorian Fairy Painting," an exhibition organized by the UIMA in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Arts in London, ran from Feb. 28 to May 24, 1998, and drew approximately 25,000 visitors. "Lure of the West," an exhibition of works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum that ran from Jan. 20 to March 18, 2001, drew about 21,400 people. "Lure of the West" also holds the weekend attendance record of 1,938 people on May 17-18, 2001.

Several factors make this large attendance number exciting for the UIMA, Collinson said. First, near record February snowfalls -- the second highest on record, according to the National Weather Service -- led to two weather-related closings of the museum and made travel difficult for many. Yet, resilient visitors trooped through the mess. In addition, weekend attendance continues to rise from week to week, reflecting what Collinson called the show's "word-of-mouth appeal." Finally, "VOOM" occupies all but two of the UIMA's 11 galleries -- or about 22,000 of 26,000 square feet of exhibition space -- making attendance records a more accurate reflection of the show's appeal.

"If they came to the museum during these past eight weeks, they were almost certainly coming for 'VOOM,'" Collinson said.

"VOOM PORTRAITS," an exhibition of high-definition video portraits by epochal avant-garde artist Robert Wilson, was commissioned and produced by VOOM HD Networks, a high-definition television company. The portraits of 33 people and animals, including celebrities like Johnny Depp, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Salma Hayek and Mikhail Baryshnikov, require more than 50 screens and are accompanied by original musical scores.

Most of the portraits are on display throughout the galleries of the UIMA, with a smaller number of portraits at CSPS, 1103 Third St. SE in Cedar Rapids. The exhibition is open to the public free of charge in both venues.

More information on the exhibition can be found at http://www.uiowa.edu/uima/voom/voom.shtml.

"VOOM PORTRAITS Robert Wilson" is presented in Iowa with support from Nancy and Craig Willis, Doug and Linda Paul, Rockwell Collins, Margaret C. Clancy, hotelVetro and conference center, Moengroup, Reference Audio Video Experts, Gazette Publications and KCRG TV.

The UI Museum of Art is located at 150 North Riverside Drive in Iowa City. Regularly scheduled museum hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday; and noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. See: http://www.uiowa.edu/uima.

CSPS, located at 1103 Third St. SE in Cedar Rapids, is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Information on CSPS/Legion Arts is available at http://www.legionarts.org/index.htm.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

PHOTOS from "VOOM PORTRAITS" are available from the Museum of Art. To request photos for publication, contact Maggie Anderson, 319-335-1731, margaret-anderson@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Maggie Anderson, Museum of Art, 319-335-1731, margaret-anderson@uiowa.edu; Peter Alexander, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072 (office), 319-541-2846 (cell), peter-alexander@uiowa.edu

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