UIMA@IMU hours over Thanksgiving break

Beginning Sunday, Nov. 22, the UIMA@IMU art space, located in the Iowa Memorial Union's third-floor Richey Ballroom, will hold special hours over the University's Thanksgiving break. Regular hours will resume on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Sunday, Nov. 22 and Monday, Nov. 23: Closed
Tuesday, Nov. 24 and Wednesday, Nov. 25: Open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 26 through Sunday, Nov. 29: Closed

Have a great holiday!

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant


Press release: UIMA fundraiser raises more than $154,000 for programs, events, exhibits

More than 200 guests attended the seventh annual University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) fundraising event, The Museum pARTy!, on Saturday, Oct. 24 to celebrate the museum’s 40th anniversary. This event, sponsored by the UIMA Members Council, raised more than $154,000 for programs, events and exhibitions for 2010.

“The UIMA relies on private support, including annual gifts and its endowment fund at the UI Foundation, for nearly 40 percent of its annual budget,” UIMA Interim Director Pamela White said. “These gifts provide meaningful cultural programs and stimulating exhibitions, and they secure the museum’s vitality for future generations.”

The occasion also marked the release of the UIMA’s 40th year anniversary book, Building a Masterpiece: Legacy of the University of Iowa Museum of Art. Illustrated with images from the permanent art collection and the museum’s 40-year history, the book celebrates 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. Author Abigail Foerstner, journalism professor at Northwestern University), attended and signed books. Copies of the anniversary book are available for $10.00 at the UIMA administrative offices, located at the Studio Arts building, 1840 SA, 1375 Highway 1 West, Iowa City or by calling 319-335-1727.

The Museum pARTy! is the culmination of the UIMA Sponsorship Program, a fundraising approach that enables patrons to direct their financial support to museum programs that particularly appeal to them.

“Guests were able to select a sponsorship of their choice from a broad range of attractive options planned for 2010,” Pat Hanick, the UI Foundation’s director of development for UIMA, said. “Patrons choose one or more items to sponsor, either through an outright gift or a pledge paid throughout the year. The proceeds from this memorable evening help sustain the museum for the entire year, and we extend our heartfelt gratitude for all who contributed.”

Chaired by Kristin Hardy (above left), The Museum pARTy! was held at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and featured hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and entertainment by local band The Recliners, as well as remarks by  Joyce P. Summerwill (above right), honorary chair of the event.

The Museum pARTy! was made possible with support from sponsors James P. Hayes and Rohrbach Associates P.C. Architects. Additional support for the event was provided by hosts Alan and Liz Swanson, Curt and Sharman Hunter, Gerald and Leesa Elseman, H. Dee and Myrene Hoover, Hodge Construction Company-Old Capitol Mall, Kristin Summerwill, Lowell Doud, Margaret C. Clancy, McComas-Lacina Construction Company, Neumann-Monson Architects, Oaknoll Retirement Residence, Phelan, Tucker, Mullen, Walker, Tucker, & Gelman, L.L.P.; Pleasant Valley Flower Shoppe, Rob & Paulina Muzzin, and Shive-Hattery, Architecture-Engineering.

The UIMA’s collection is currently on display at two locations: a newly opened, temporary, visual classroom, the UIMA@IMU, located in the Iowa Memorial Union's (IMU) third-floor Richey Ballroom, and at the Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second St., Davenport, Iowa. Exhibitions will be on display in the IMU’s third-floor Black Box Theater starting in Spring 2010.

For up-to-date museum information, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/uima or the UIMA blog "Art Matters" at http://uima.blogspot.com, or call 319-335-1725.

The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the UI Foundation, visit its web site at www.uiowafoundation.org.

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 and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-384-0037, steven-parrott@uiowa.edu; Patricia L. Hanick, University of Iowa Foundation, 319-335-3305, pat-hanick@uiowa.edu; Writer: Claire Lekwa


UIMA art safe and unaffected by Iowa House Hotel fire

You may have seen the news about a small fire early this morning in the Iowa House Hotel adjoined to the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU). Don't worry -- our art in the UIMA@IMU, located in the third-floor Richey Ballroom, is safe and was not affected. You can read the University's press release about the incident here. Keep checking the blog for more updates and information.

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant


Over $150,000 raised for UIMA at The Museum PartY!

What a great night! More than 200 guests attending The Museum PartY! on Saturday, Oct. 24 demonstrated their support for the Museum by raising over $150,000 for the UIMA's 2010 programs, events, and exhibitions. In keeping with the year-long celebration of the UIMA's 40th anniversary, Abigail Foerstner's new book, Building a Masterpiece: Legacy of the University of Iowa Museum of Art, made its debut. These friends of the Museum mingled (see the photo slide show above!), enjoyed wonderful hors d'oeuvres, and danced to the music of local favorite, The Recliners. Honorary chair for this year's PartY! was Joyce P. Summerwill and the event chair was Kristin Hardy.

A special thanks to our PartY! Sponsors and Hosts who helped make this event possible:

Thank you to our PartY! Sponsors: James P. Hayes and Rohrbach Associates P.C. Architects.

Thank you to our PartY! Hosts: Alan and Liz Swanson; Curt and Sharman Hunter; Gerald and Leesa Elseman; H. Dee and Myrene Hoover; Hodge Construction Company-Old Capitol Mall; Kristin Summerwill; Lowell Doud; Margaret C. Clancy; McComas-Lacina Construction Company; Neumann-Monson Architects; Oaknoll Retirement Residence; Phelan, Tucker, Mullen, Walker, Tucker, & Gelman, L.L.P.; Pleasant Valley Flower Shoppe; Rob & Paulina Muzzin; and Shive-Hattery, Architecture-Engineering.

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant


UIMA staff members' thoughts on Pollock theory

Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943, oil on canvas, 19' 10" x 8' 1"
Gift of Peggy Guggenheim, copyright 1959 UIMA

Jackson Pollock's ever-intriguing Mural (above), part of the UIMA's permanent collection, finds itself at the center of another debate online and in the paper. In an article from Smithsonian magazine's October 2009 issue, art historian Henry Adams, professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio and author of the upcoming book, Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock, claims that the artist composed the work around the letters of his name, hidden within the painting's vibrant swirls.

Three UIMA staff members give their responses to the theory here on the UIMA "Art Matters" blog:

"Jackson Pollock wrote his name on Mural once, in the bottom left corner. He dated it, too. One of the significant aspects of Pollock’s Mural is the fact that it doesn’t reference the physical, external world. Many claim to see the human form, people dancing or some sort of stampede; the stampede imagery is derived from a quote by Pollock himself, but he was speaking metaphorically. Whatever people see, or think they see, says more about them than the Pollock masterpiece, and it seems to serve as an upscale Rorschach test for some. Like all great works of art, Mural takes time to reveal itself to the viewer. To turn it into a “circle-a-word” puzzle that you can find in any newspaper is to do a disservice to the work, as well as yourself."
 -Dale Fisher, UIMA Director of Education
"People seem to be uncomfortable looking at abstract art without trying to impose literal images on its surface.  Pollock himself called the painting a herd of thundering animals—but we are pretty sure he meant this metaphorically.  For me, I just can’t see the painting being about his name.  And, I think that limits the painting’s possibilities.  It is for me a limitless, all-encompassing image that completely envelops you as you look at it—I like the feeling of being submerged in the painted surface and have no need to try to find quantifiable images."
-Pamela White, UIMA Interim Director
"(The theory) is reflective, I think, of what people think about when they look at that painting. Maybe some people think it's there for some reason and they are driven to find something that's literal to them, to make sense of it...I'm not going to say that it's completely out of the question."
 -Kathy Edwards, UIMA Chief Curator, quoted by The Gazette

You can read The Gazette's recent coverage of the question here:
The story has been picked up by many online art news sources as well. Here are links to a few of them:

The debate continues on the UIMA's Facebook page. Contribute to the discussion by adding "Iowa Art" as a friend and commenting there or posting your comments here on the blog.

You can see Mural to decide for yourself in the exhibit, A Legacy for Iowa: Pollock's Mural and Modern Masterworks from the University of Iowa Museum of Art, on display at the Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second St., Davenport, Iowa until Dec. 31.

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant


UIMA@IMU: New photos and press coverage

The UIMA@IMU, located in the Iowa Memorial Union's (IMU) third floor Richey Ballroom, is open to the public, and in case you haven't checked it out yet, here are some photos of the completed installation to entice you!

Come visit the space and take a look at some of the more than 250 art objects on display during the public hours:

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday
12-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Also, the UIMA@IMU was featured in the news around its Sept. 8 opening. Here are links to the articles:

UI finds homes for music, art programs, Iowa City Press-Citizen

State of the arts, The Daily Iowan

Swing by the IMU sometime and post a comment here on the blog letting us know what you think!

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant


UIMA Word Painters: Work from Cheyenne Nimes

Last night in the Old Capitol Museum, the UIMA hosted its first Word Painters reading of the semester. Cheyenne Nimes (right), a graduate student in the UI Nonfiction Writing Program and one of the University of Iowa Museum of Art's Fall 2009 "Word Painter" fellows, read from her recent work, as did Ryan Van Meter, who currently holds the 2009-10 Provost's Postgraduate Writing Fellowship in Nonfiction.

Following each Word Painter reading, the UIMA "Art Matters" blog will be featuring work from the Word Painter fellows. The first selection (below) comes from Nimes, who is currently working on her thesis statement, a group of nonfiction essays addressing issues of the world's water crises. This selected essay focuses around the Cuyahoga River located in northeastern Ohio. The piece is just one example of how Nimes' work really makes you think about rivers in a completely new way, from their raw power and natural mystique, to their role in the larger water crisis issues of the world.

Make sure to check the blog next week for another highlighted work by Nimes, a piece about the Colorado River.

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant

Running from the surface.
By Cheyenne Nimes

Call this "Cuyahoga," "crooked river" in Iroquois.
Usually 3-6 feet deep, most of us can stand in it. I meant mostly can’t stand it. Time magazine says it "oozes rather than flows" and in which a person "does not drown but decays”.
Fires occurred on the Cuyahoga River in 1868, Dying would have been better at the beginning, 1883, the rules to survive this situation? 1887, A voice so far back having it is a haunting, and explanatory, 1912, toy, plaything to ring in the century, 1922, All-out war, 1936, It has no before or after now, 1941, she grinned black blood out her toothless mouth, tongue cut out pleased for them like that, 1948, ___slipped quietly away with the current, drifting down the river that stretched into the darkness and in 1952. The 1952 fire caused over 1.5 million dollars in damage. River sound goes dry, 1969, A flame that never really left. Flames going into and out from, going in as many directions as there are.


UIMA preparator to tell challenges of converting old ballroom into UIMA@IMU

How do you transform an old ballroom (above), used mostly for meetings, into a multi-functional, visual classroom suitable for housing museum artwork, all in five months?

The task that Steve Erickson, preparator for the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA), faced in creating the museum's new, temporary on-campus art venue, the UIMA@IMU, challenged him quite unlike his past experiences in exhibition design.

Erickson will discuss the design process for the UIMA@IMU in his lecture "You Want Me to Build What???...Where???" at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23, in the University Athletic Club, 1360 Melrose Ave. The event is free and open to the public.


UIMA@IMU now open to public, plus: Q&A with UIMA Chief Curator Kathy Edwards

As of Tuesday, Sept. 8, the University of Iowa Museum of Art's new, temporary, on-campus art venue, the UIMA@IMU, is now open to the public. Located in the former Richey Ballroom on the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) third floor, the UIMA@IMU will hold regular public hours from:

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: noon to 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays and on university holidays.

To give you an idea of what to expect from this new visual classroom, UIMA Chief Curator Kathy Edwards (shown in the photo on the left), who has been part of the planning process over the past five months, answered a few of the questions that might be on visitors' minds.

UIMA: What can people expect when they come to visit the UIMA’s new space at the IMU?

KE: There are six basic areas in the space. The entrance area; the Study Room, which is accessible by appointment only; an area for Ancient and Native arts; and areas for African Art; figurative art; and conceptual and contemporary art. People will be greeted by a volunteer and a UI student employee when they enter. Of course there will also be a museum guard for everyone’s protection! There are cubbies for backpacks and coat racks. Paper and pencils can be used (no pens) and laptops in the Study Room if space allows. The Study Room contains European and American studio ceramics, and African and Pre-Columbian art. Over 250 prints, drawings and photographs will be stored in a room adjacent to the Study Room. A selection of works on paper can be identified prior to a class meeting in the Study Room and can be viewed there on special wall easels. The area for Ancient and Native arts contains objects from Ancient Rome, Greece, Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Persia, etc.), Pre-Columbus Mexico, and the Native Americas. The objects in the African art area represent an overview from the UIMA’s renowned collection. People will also be able to view Prof. Chris Roy’s Bwa video. The area for figurative art includes Philip Guston’s “The Young Mother” and other works that are narrative in nature—that is, they tell a story. In the last area people will see works that are about ideas—what is sometimes called conceptual art.


Sneak preview: UIMA@IMU

Throughout August, Maggie Anderson, UIMA Media and Marketing Manager, documented the UIMA@IMU's transformation into the museum's new temporary on-campus art space. Renovated from the Richey Ballroom to a sleek, state-of-the-art venue, the UIMA@IMU will open to the public on Sept. 8 with a global selection of art from the UIMA's collection, as can be seen in the pictures above. The installation features more than 250 art objects from a wide range of locales and periods -- Africa, China, Japan, Tibet, and the Ancient Americas among them -- as well 20th-century European and American ceramics, conceptual art and a changing selection of figurative art. In addition, the more than 250 prints, drawings and photographs that had been available since October in the University of Iowa Libraries' Special Collections will move to the UIMA@IMU for a total of more than 500 objects. I'm sure this tantalizing preview will only whet your appetite for more come the opening next Tuesday. We hope to see you all there!

Check out the press release here for more information on the UIMA@IMU.

Coming soon: Q&A with UIMA Chief Curator Kathy Edwards about highlights and what visitors can expect to see when they visit the UIMA@IMU next week.

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant

Pictures from UIMA Welcome Week event

Check out this slide show of pictures from the Fall 2009 Welcome Week Black and Gold Carnival on Sat., Aug. 22, where UIMA staff members and volunteers gave students a sneak preview of the new UIMA@IMU space and led an art activity. At the event, more than 65 UI students checked out the UIMA@IMU and were entered to win UIMA merchandise and a $50 gift certificate to Atlas World Grill. Congrats to the winner, UI student Andy Thompson! And thanks to all who participated in this event!

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant


'Thursdays at the Figge' features talks on UIMA masterworks

As a part of the ongoing collaboration between the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) and the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, several UIMA staff members will present art talks for the fall "Thursdays at the Figge" series.

These informal events aim to provide a fun, relaxed way to engage with works of art on display at the Figge. UIMA Director of Education Dale Fisher will speak about Abstract Expressionist artist Ad Reinhardt for the first of the UIMA's talks at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3.

Reinhardt's work "Abstract Painting No. 6" is on display through Dec. 31 at the Figge as part of the UIMA exhibition "A Legacy for Iowa: Pollock's 'Mural' and Modern Masterworks from the University of Iowa Museum of Art."

"It's a hard painting for audiences to love, because there is nothing visual in it that specifically addresses any traditional content or subject matter," Fisher said. "Reinhardt used a minimalist approach to some very big ideas, and this is a dichotomy that I'm going to discuss in the lecture."

Other UIMA staff members will present "Thursdays at the Figge" on the following dates:

* Thursday, Sept. 10: UIMA Graduate Curatorial Assistant Nathan Popp on Marsden Hartley
* Thursday, Sept. 24: UIMA Chief Curator Kathleen Edwards on Sam Gilliam
* Thursday, Oct. 29: Edwards presents "American Workshop Prints (Part II) from the 1950s into the 21st Century" in conjunction with Figge exhibition "Paper Trail: A Decade of Acquisitions from the Walker Art Center," on display through Jan. 3, 2010.

"Thursdays at the Figge" events are free with paid Figge admission and to UIMA donors with their Donor Courtesy Cards and UI students, faculty and staff with their university ID cards. The talks are held weekly on Thursday and begin at 7 p.m.; the Figge Bar will be open from 5-9 p.m. with live music from 6-8 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month. Regular museum admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, $4 for children ages 3-12. For a full schedule, visit www.figgeartmuseum.org.

Due to the 2008 flood, the UI Museum of Art offices have been relocated to the Studio Arts Building, 1840 SA, Iowa City, IA 52242, and Museum of Art events and exhibitions are being held at various locations. Under a 2008 agreement, the Figge will house and display most of the UIMA collection until a permanent museum space in Iowa City becomes available. For up-to-date UIMA information, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/uima or call 319-335-1725.

The Figge Art Museum is an encyclopedic museum with more than 4,000 works of art in its collection, ranging from the 16th century to the present. The Figge is best known for its extensive collection of Haitian, colonial, Mexican and Midwestern art, particularly pieces by Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, Marvin Cone and Grant Wood, including the only self-portrait Wood ever painted. The three-year-old, state-of-the-art museum building was designed by Stirling Prize-winning British architect David Chipperfield.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Dan McNeil, Figge Art Museum, 563-326-7804, ext. 2047; dmcneil@figgeartmuseum.org; Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-384-0037, steven-parrott@uiowa.edu; Writer: Hilary Leigh.


UI envisions a new Museum of Art

Saying that "It's time to look toward the future," of the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA), UI President Sally Mason today announced the formation of the Envisioning Committee for the UIMA, which will hold its first meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28, in Room B5 of Jessup Hall.

"I have charged the envisioning committee to imagine all of the possibilities for the University of Iowa Museum of Art," said Mason. "The museum makes invaluable contributions to the cultural life of our campus, our community and the entire state."

Carroll Reasoner, UI interim vice president of legal affairs and general counsel, will chair the UIMA Envisioning Committee. Reasoner, a UI College of Law alumna, said the group will consult UIMA staff, museum experts and other UI and community talents as resources in order to develop the most comprehensive and informed recommendations for the UIMA's future.

"The University of Iowa Museum of Art is an integral part of the academic mission of the University of Iowa," Reasoner said. "We aim to develop an overall creative vision that can be accomplished by the Museum of Art in a new setting and to put best ideas into practical contexts."

The historic 2008 flood ravaged the Museum's Riverside Drive facility. As the rising waters threatened its celebrated collection the museum staff had to prioritize. First, rescue the art. Then, make art accessible through alternative locations. Now, says UIMA Interim Director Pamela White, recovery from the devastation has become their focus.

"We are all, of course, saddened by the loss of the former Museum of Art building," White said. "But it's time to turn the page and begin thinking about the future of the museum, how we can make it even better than before."

Composed of community members, faculty and students, the committee's charge from the president is to "assess best practices among art museums joined to institutions of higher learning and the aspirations of Iowans for the UI Museum of Art." The group will meet throughout the next six months and make recommendations to UI leaders in early 2010.

Other members of the UIMA Envisioning Committee are:

* Community Members: David Bright, Deb Galbraith, James Hayes, Sharman Hunter, Linda Paul, Nancy Quellhorst, Joyce Summerwill and Craig Willis

* UI Faculty Members: Ruth Ann Bentler, professor of speech pathology and audiology, Barbara Eckstein, associate provost of academic administration, Robert Fellows, emeritus professor of physiology, H.D. Hoover, professor emeritus of education, Alan MacVey, director of the Division of Performing Arts, chair of the department of theatre arts and interim chair of the department of dance, Christopher D. Roy, art history professor and UIMA African research curator, John Beldon Scott, director of the school of art and art history, and Susan White, professor of painting

* Student Members: Benjamin Lipnick and Nathan Popp, UIMA graduate curatorial assistant

* Advisory Resources: UIMA Chief Curator Kathleen Edwards, UI Facilities Management Director of Design and Construction Rod Lehnertz, Jeff Lieberman, UI Foundation, UIMA Manager of Exhibitions and Collections Jeff Martin, and UIMA Interim Director Pamela White

The UIMA Envisioning Committee can be contacted by e-mail at envisionuima@uiowa.edu.

The UIMA was evacuated from its Riverside Drive building during the June 2008 flood and is exhibiting art from its collection at various locations on and off campus while it is without a permanent home. For more information visit http://www.uiowa.edu/uima or the UIMA blog "Art Matters" at http://uima.blogspot.com, or call 319-335-1725. Temporary UIMA offices are located in the Studio Arts Building, 1840 SA, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, thomas-moore@uiowa.edu

UI Museum of Art to open new on-campus location in Iowa Memorial Union

More than 500 works of art from the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) collection will be available in a new on-campus art venue this fall.

The "UIMA@IMU," located in the former Richey Ballroom on the Iowa Memorial Union's (IMU) third floor, is a visual classroom that will serve as a temporary location while the museum is displaced because of the June 2008 flood.

The UIMA invites students to preview its new space from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22 during the UI Welcome Week Black and Gold Carnival in Hubbard Park. The museum will host a table in the park where students may participate in an art activity. Students who visit the UIMA's new location will also have the chance to enter a raffle for UIMA merchandise and an Atlas World Grill gift certificate for two.

"With the 'UIMA@IMU,' we can continue to offer the invaluable experience of art until a new permanent home is available on campus," said UIMA Interim Director Pamela White. "The space will serve as a visual classroom for the arts, and we hope both students and members of the public will visit often."

The "UIMA@IMU" will be available for classroom use by appointment beginning Tuesday, Aug. 25 and the general public starting Tuesday, Sept. 8. Regular public hours for the "UIMA@IMU" will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The space will be closed Mondays and on university holidays.

The installation features more than 250 art objects from a wide range of locales and periods -- Africa, China, Japan, Tibet, and the Ancient Americas among them -- as well 20th-century European and American ceramics, conceptual art and a changing selection of figurative art. In addition, the more than 250 prints, drawings and photographs that had been available since October in the University of Iowa Libraries' Special Collections will move to the "UIMA@IMU" for a total of more than 500 objects.

UIMA curatorial staff carefully chose the works with potential teaching use in mind, said UIMA Chief Curator Kathleen Edwards. "We already have classes booked to use the space the first week of classes," she said. "It's clear students and faculty have missed the experience original works of art can provide."

The UIMA and IMU began planning to make the Richey Ballroom suitable for art display just five months ago. The renovation cost about $1 million, 90 percent of which was funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Of the $110,000 remaining, the UIMA received $30,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) with the university funding the balance of the match.

Those familiar with the third-floor Richey Ballroom as an event space and periodic Iowa Board of Regents meeting room may not recognize it now. The carpet has been removed to reveal the original maple ballroom floor, which has been sanded and polished to a gleam; the ceiling has been lowered from as high as 18 feet to nearly 12 feet and the windows closed off to allow for light and climate control; and the newly painted walls divide the 4,000-square-foot room into discrete sections, including a glass-walled classroom designated for close study of art and available for use by appointment.

Parking for the "UIMA@IMU" is available in the IMU Parking Ramp on North Madison Street, across the street from the IMU's east side and at the meters in the small parking lot on the IMU's south side. Additional parking is available in the North Campus Parking Ramp, located at the north end of Madison Street by North Hall.

Objects from the UIMA collection will also be exhibited in the Levitt Center for University Advancement's Stanley Gallery, which will house African Art available for viewing by appointment, and the IMU's Black Box Theater, which will be used periodically for UIMA exhibitions. The rest of the UIMA collection is on display or stored at the Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second St., Davenport, until a new permanent home in Iowa City becomes available. Admission to the Figge is free for UI students, faculty and staff who present their UI ID cards, UIMA donors who present their donor courtesy card, and Figge Art Museum members. The general public is also welcome at the event for regular Figge admission prices: $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, $4 for children ages 3-12.

Temporary UIMA offices are located in the Studio Arts Building, 1840 SA, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242. For up-to-date museum information visit http://www.uiowa.edu/uima or the UIMA blog "Art Matters" at http://uima.blogspot.com, or call 319-335-1725.

The NEH has awarded $1 million in Emergency Flood Assistance Grants for museums, libraries, archives, universities and other cultural and historical institutions in federally designated disaster areas affected by the floods in the Midwest. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this news release do not necessarily reflect those of the NEH.

MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-335-0552, steven-parrott@uiowa.edu; Writer: Maggie Anderson


For the record...

On Friday, July 31, The Daily Iowan wrote in their article "Some Art Returns" that the University of Iowa Museum of Art collection will no longer be at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport after Sunday, August 2. This statement is incorrect (the paper will be running a correction when it resumes publication in late August). Under a collaborative agreement, the majority of the University of Iowa Museum of Art collection will remain stored or displayed at the Figge Art Museum until a new permanent structure is available on campus. The current exhibition at the Figge, A Legacy for Iowa: Pollock's Mural and Modern Masterworks from the University of Iowa Museum of Art, will remain available to the public though December 31, 2009.

Beginning this fall, a portion of the artwork now housed (not on view) at the Figge Art Museum will be returning to campus to be displayed in the former Richey Ballroom space on the third floor of the Iowa Memorial Union. However, the selection will not include the Pollock Mural as alluded to in the article. Instead, it will consist of more than 250 objects chosen from the over 12,000 in the UIMA collection. These works present a global overview of the UIMA collection that will be useful to UI classes.

In the same article, The Daily Iowan said that UI students, faculty, and staff receive free admission to the Figge. This is correct, but we'd like to clarify that University of Iowa Museum of Art donors will also get in for free when they present their Donor Courtesy Card.

So, please keep planning to visit the Figge Art Museum to view the University of Iowa Museum of Art collection in the A Legacy for Iowa exhibition! And, plan to visit our new on-campus location at the former IMU Richey Ballroom--more info on that coming soon.

--Hilary Leigh, UIMA Intern


Organized Chaos

UIMA Graduate Curatorial Assistant Nathan Popp joins us on Art Matters today to share some of his reflections on the flood and his work with the UIMA's collection of prints, drawings, and photographs.
Those who know me understand how much I crave order.

Since water besieged the UIMA and so many others last summer, I have struggled to cope with the ongoing uncertainty of the Museum’s situation. Looking back, however, I can see that certain advance actions we took helped facilitate an efficient evacuation of our works on paper collection (prints, drawings, and photographs).

Prior to the deluge, my supervisor, UIMA Chief Curator Kathy Edwards, had given me the task of systematically going through the Museum’s art object database to identify objects that needed research and to gather the missing information. Our goal had been to have as much of the collection as possible available on the University of Iowa’s Digital Library, so that students, faculty and the public could browse the collection online.

The digitization does not provide a virtual substitution for the Museum, but rather allows people access to many works of art not typically on display in the galleries, and to let them explore the true depth of the fine collection here at Iowa. The digital image database has and will provide people a way to discover unique objects from the collection, and then make an appointment to come into the Museum and see what peaked their interest.

The flood has limited such opportunities for student and faculty use of the collection and thrust the staff into a whirlwind of organized chaos this past year. Several office moves, continuous construction, and other hurdles have tested the morale of those who work at the museum--and all of those affected by the flood.But through it all the charge remained: stay steadfast, work toward an objective bigger than ourselves.

When the semi-trucks began to return the University of Iowa Museum of Art’s collection back to native soil at its new temporary home at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport (read more on the UIMA/Figge agreement here and http://uima.blogspot.com/2009/01/move-in-news.html and see photos here), I was awestruck by the amount of work that needed to be done. Row after row of boxes and crates formed a mountainous labyrinth, each a package that had been saved from the flood.
As noted in UIMA Assistant to the Director for Special Programs and Curatorial Assistant Melissa Hueting’s blog series “From the Figge Front,” our group documented every object with condition reports and added each item to an inventory as it was relocated to its new storage place. It had been nearly a year since I had laid eyes on most of the works on paper, and it felt good to know they would soon again be under my care.

Although it took months to finish, day by day we pressed on until the job was done. For works on paper, each box was taken from its pallet and placed onto a large table, where we went through the contents page by page, ensuring that everything was accounted for and in good condition. Once certain that all was well, we moved the box onto a cart destined for an area in the Figge’s library. There, the books had been moved to make room for new shelves where the works on paper boxes can be secure in a proper climate.As each box-laden cart voyaged toward its next destination, I walked alongside, my outstretched hand resting atop the stack. I knew that the cart was steered properly and in no danger of accident from shifting, but something inside me felt I needed to protect the UIMA’s works on paper. Maybe it is because I started as a student security guard in 2004 and came to art history by way of my reverence to the art I was charged to protect. Or perhaps it is because I believe passionately that this collection should be shared and protected for future generations.

What I do know is that as one entrusted with the care of collection, it reassures me to keep a steady hand on those containers. It calms me to gently slide them into the protected slot where they will repose until the next class or exhibit calls them into service. I scan every list, count each shelf, calculate the best arrangement.
After a tumultuous year, the new order here restores my sense of duty and inspires me not only to resume past projects, but also to press on toward new plans—The UIMA@the Figge and the UIMA@the IMU: Richey Ballroom, to name two. These two spaces allow the UIMA to continue fulfilling its educational mission as best it can, but they do not negate Iowa’s need for a museum to provide a home for its art collection.

All Iowans are the inheritors of this magnificent assembly of art, but with reward comes responsibility, and our sights must be set on what we bequest to future generations. A shiver trickles down my spine as I drive along Dubuque Street and witness the Iowa River swell with rain water again. I think to myself how nature is unmanageable, unpredictable. The phrase etched above the doorway of the old art building puts my plight into perspective: Ars longa, vita brevis. Art is long, life is short.


Video feature: Robert Motherwell's "Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 126"

For this video feature, the third in our series highlighting works on display in the UIMA exhibit at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, A Legacy for Iowa: Pollock's Mural and Modern Masterworks from the University of Iowa Museum of Art, we talked with University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) Assistant to the Director for Special Programs and Curatorial Assistant Melissa Hueting about Robert Motherwell's Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 126. Check it out here, on the UIMA's YouTube channel, or on Facebook.

--Maggie Anderson, UIMA Marketing and Media Manager

From the Figge Front: All done!

It’s been months since this room has been so empty!

As of July 16, it's over. Over 13 months after being packed up and shipped to Chicago, the UIMA collection is unpacked and in storage at the Figge Art Museum, ready to begin the next stage of its existence. Countless people, hours, and miles have been dedicated to the collection’s well-being. "Thank you" just doesn’t cut it in terms of the gratitude that we, the UIMA staff, feel towards all of you who have demonstrated your devotion to and support for the UIMA!

Now that we’ve completed the move, we’re ready to jump into the next project: Beginning today, we’re back at the Figge to prepare a check-list of objects for their journey back to the UI, this time to the UIMA@IMU: Richey Ballroom, which opens on August 22. Museum patrons visiting this newly renovated space will be able to reconnect with familiar objects, while new visitors will have an opportunity that has been denied to them this past year: experiencing the art first-hand!

Here's looking forward to seeing you there...

--Melissa Hueting, UIMA Assistant to the Director for Special Programs and Curatorial Assistant

P.S. Since we're done unpacking, this will be my last weekly blog from the Figge Front. But don't worry--I'll return periodically to keep you updated on our progress with other projects!


Two possible sites for new Hancher-Voxman-Clapp; some concerns about UIMA

UI officials narrowed possible sites for a new Hancher-Voxman-Clapp complex from eight to two at a public forum last Thursday.

The "west site," just north of the current flood-damaged Hancher and near the Levitt Center, received the most support from those who spoke when the floor was opened to comment during the second half of the two-hour event.

The “east site," located south of Burlington Street and bordered by Clinton, Court and Madison streets, had a few supporters, notably the two recent UI graduates who spoke. But most said they do not want a new performing arts center downtown, citing concerns about parking, aesthetics, and loss of taxable property.

Loren Keller of CorridorBuzz.com notes that some of the approximately 200 attendees wondered about the UIMA's future.

Shirley Wyrick, an Iowa City artist married to UI Foundation president emeritus Darrell Wyrik, asked about the UIMA, which officials did not discuss at the forum.

“The Museum of Art does not get FEMA funds but its entire function has been wiped out,” she said. “It needs a home.”

In Monday's Daily Iowan, reporter Claire Perlman writes:

"While the public heard two viable locations for the Hancher/Voxman/Clapp complex July 9, the Museum of Art’s future is smudged with budget problems.

"For one thing, neither the Art Museum nor Art Building West will receive federal disaster funding because they didn’t sustain damage of 50 percent or more of the property’s value.

"Art Building West will be renovated, but some see an opportunity to improve the Art Museum.

“ 'This is a chance not only to replace what we lost but to really look into the future and see how we can be better than ever,' said Pat Hanick, the museum director of development at the UI Foundation."

Read the full artilce here.

Those who would like to comment on the HVC site selection can send an e-mail to hvc-site@uiowa.edu. More information about the process, including video of the forum and documents that were presented, is available here.

Click here to read the Gazette article about the forum, here for the Press-Citizen article, and here for the Daily Iowan article.


From the Figge Front: Many Metal Drawers

“They’re like an army! A tiny, terracotta army all lined up in a storage drawer! You know, like that Chinese terracotta army that was discovered years ago. Only smaller. Much smaller.”

I turn to Victoria (from OIA--O'Connell International Arts, Inc.), eyes eager with the expectation that she agree. She shakes her head, laughing in amused consent.
Victoria examines the terracotta army.

I return her smile. It’s not an army, of course. I’m just being goofy after a long day on my feet. So what is it that we’re unpacking? One of many metal drawers that rest within large shipping boxes, each of which is filled with either Pre-Columbian terracotta figures or Chinese jades.

A drawer of Chinese jades.

I stare down at our current drawer and over fifty Pre-Columbian figures stare back, adorned in representations of clothing and accessories indigenous to their time and place. Tiny figures, beautifully decorated with molded details that are accentuated by brightly colored pigment. I’m trained to work with terracotta objects, but the majority of my experience has come from Roman vessels and votive offerings that I’ve excavated abroad. But these figures...were they used as votive offerings? Or perhaps they were fertility fetishes (many are voluptuously pregnant women)? One of the coolest parts of this job is that my mind naturally connects what I see to what I know, encouraging me to identify similarities and question differences. I’ll have to learn more about these particular figures when we’re finished unpacking and I’m back in the office. But for now...
A view of the work space.

...I need to concentrate on documenting each drawer that we pull out of the numerous boxes still waiting to be checked in. Today is Tuesday and we’re hoping to finish unpacking everything by Friday. Glancing around the enormous room, I am doubtful; however we’ve made quite a dent this week already and if we continue at this pace we just might be able to finish by the weekend.

Jeff (right) at work with an OAI employee.
Steve Erickson and Nathan Popp of the UIMA at the works on paper check-in station.

In fact, we’ve established an additional check-in station so that we can expedite this process. Kathy and Nathan continue to examine the works on paper, with help from Anna Heineman (a Ph.D. student in art history who works for UIMA). Jeff works with OIA employees at the main "objects" check-in table, and Victoria and I run a smaller "objects" station across the room. One of the OIA guys has taken to calling the two of us "Laverne and Shirley." Having never seen this television show, I’m unfamiliar with these characters and can only assume that they represent two hard-working, art-loving girls, as that’s exactly what we are.

--Melissa Hueting, UIMA Assistant to the Director for Special Programs and Curatorial Assistant


From the Figge Front: Today

Today will be a good day.

I’m in the back seat of UIMA Exhibitions and Collections Manager Jeff Martin’s car, listening to an audio book on retired judge and military hero Buck Compton, known from the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" (the audio book is far more interesting than I originally anticipated). Looking out my window I see flashes of light -- cars zipping west on I-80, caught only by the sunlight -- and I feel relief that we’re heading east to the Figge Art Museum, where we’ll resume unpacking the UIMA collection.

We haven’t been able to unpack for over a month, but this week we finally have the OK. All hands are on deck and thank goodness: a big push is necessary because we must have everything unpacked and located before we can finalize plans for the Richey Ballroom, which is set to open in August.

For me, it’s the process that is most exciting. I have my new notebook on the seat next to me, ready to be filled with columns and rows of numbers and letters. I smile to myself, knowing that with each completed page we’ll be that much closer to normalcy, to having the objects safely placed back on shelves.

We’re pulling into the Figge’s parking lot, and I can see the O’Connell International Arts team. It’s been over a month, but I feel like we were just here. Because of our old friends (meaning the art) we’ve made new friends and have grown close through this experience. I see Victoria, who waves. Now Bob and Darren start walking to where we’ve parked. Today will be a good day.

--Melissa Hueting, Assistant to the Director for Special Projects and Curatorial Assistant


Video feature: Dale Fisher on John Marin's "Off Flint Island, Main Coast"

For this video feature, the second in our series highlighting works on display in the A Legacy for Iowa... exhibit at the Figge, we chatted with University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) Director of Education Dale Fisher about John Marin's Off Flint Island, Main Coast. Check it out here or on the UIMA's YouTube channel.

And be sure to attend Dale's lecture, where he'll talk more about John Marin's work, this Thursday, July 2—part of an ongoing "Thursdays at the Figge" series over the summer!

Dale Fisher, Featured Artist: John Marin
Thursdays at the Figge
When: July 2—Bar open 5-9 p.m., Music 6-8 p.m., Art Talk 7 p.m.
Where: Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second St., Davenport, IA
Cost: Free with museum admission and for UIMA donors with Donor Courtesy Card and UI Students, Faculty, and Staff with UI ID card.

--Maggie Anderson, UIMA Marketing and Media Manager


Thursdays at the Figge: Pamela White on Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943, oil on canvas, 19' 10" x 8' 1"
Gift of Peggy Guggenheim, copyright 1959 UIMA

UIMA Interim Director Pamela White will give tomorrow's "Thursdays at the Figge" talk on Jackson Pollock, the famous Abstract Expressionist artist who created the UIMA's most celebrated painting, the nearly 20-foot-long, more than 8-foot-tall Mural (1943).

If you'd like to read a bit about Pollock before the talk, check out the UIMA website for more information. You can also read some of the past posts on this blog.

Pamela White, Featured Artist: Jackson Pollock
Thursdays at the Figge
When: TOMORROW, June 25—Bar open 5-9 p.m., Music 6-8 p.m., Art Talk 7 p.m.
Where: Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second St., Davenport, IA
Cost: Free with museum admission and for UIMA donors with Donor Courtesy Card and UI Students, Faculty, and Staff with UI ID card.

--Maggie Anderson, UIMA Marketing and Media Manager


From the Figge Front: Unpacking African

Last Thursday at work was like Christmas morning! We’ve been receiving packages of all shapes and sizes from David Riep, who is field collecting for us in South Africa (see the article about David in the UIMA’s Summer 2009 Magazine). They have been waiting to be opened for months, and other new African acquisitions have been waiting even longer: a few objects were purchased just before the 2008 Flood and were sent directly to our Chicago storage, so they’ve been packed up for over a year. Last Thursday we welcomed all of these objects to their new temporary home at the Figge!
From Left to right: UIMA Registrarial Assistant Whitney Day , Preparator Steve Erickson,
and Registrar Jeff Martin work to unpack African objects at the Figge.

We unpacked the objects and assigned them all numbers, and then we photographed them against a white background. Most of the objects go together to create beautifully beaded and embroidered outfits, many used for initiation ceremonies or religious rituals. (I almost asked if I could model some of the outfits but decided that might not be the best practice in art handling.) Some of the objects (like the above apron) were made from animal skins, so we repacked them in paper and then plastic bags and placed them in a freezer for a few weeks, to make sure that no bugs hitched a ride from South Africa. We located the rest of the objects to shelves in storage at the Figge.

My favorite pieces were the initiation staffs.
New staffs like this are given to male initiates, usually from their maternal uncle. Each stick must cure for one year before being decorated, due to the type of wood used. This kind of wood shrinks while it dries, and it must do so before the decorative wire is added so the wire doesn’t fall off the shaft. The colorful designs are made from telephone wire, which is commonly used for sticks like this.

Formerly, sticks were carved with fancy tops, but this went out of fashion by the 1940s. This artistic shift is a reflection of cultural changes: beginning in the 1940s, Africans needed to take up migrant work in the cities and those who became night watchmen began using surplus materials to make new traditional objects, such as these coiled sticks. These staffs function in a variety of ways: for walking, fighting, and shepherding, in addition to serving as a status symbol. Very cool! I wonder how difficult it would be to make my own…

We anticipate receiving another shipment from David on Thursday, said to include more outfits and some ceramic vessels (aka, beer cups), which we hope will arrive undamaged after their long journey. Update to follow!

--Melissa Hueting, UIMA Assistant to the Director for Special Programs and Curatorial Assistant


Flood anniversary

On Monday, June 15, the University of Iowa marked the one-year anniversary of the 2008 flood with "Remember, Reimagine, Rebuild," a commemoration at the Old Capitol Museum. A series of flood photographs taken by the UI Office of University Relations and posters illustrating cutting-edge, flood-related research being conducted by UI faculty, staff, and students will be on view at the museum through July. You can read more about some of the research online, here. Note the mention of the $30,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant that the UIMA received with the assistance of Jay Semel. In addition, digital archives of the StoryCorps Oral History Project from the Iowa Digital Library Flood Collection may be found online at digital.lib.uiowa.edu/flood. You can read more about that project here.

For a UIMA perspective, click here to read Claire Lekwa's post on interviewing a Story Corps reporter.

Here are some photos from yesterday's event. Also, make sure to check out the University's flood recovery Web site for the most recent flood news.

--Maggie Anderson, UIMA Marketing and Media Manager


Video feature: Max Beckmann's "Karneval"

In light of her upcoming lecture at the Figge, Melissa Hueting, UIMA Assistant to the Director for Special Programs and Curatorial Assistant, was kind enough to talk a little about Max Beckmann's Karneval for the first in a series of UIMA videos highlighting works on display in the "A Legacy for Iowa" exhibit. Check it out here or on the UIMA's YouTube channel.

And be sure to attend Melissa's lecture, where she'll give more insight into Max Beckmann's work, this Thursday, June 18—part of an ongoing "Thursdays at the Figge" series over the summer!

Melissa Hueting, Featured Artist: Max Beckmann
Thursdays at the Figge
When: June 18—Bar open 5-9 p.m., Music 6-8 p.m., Art Talk 7 p.m.
Where: Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second St., Davenport, IA
Cost: Free with membership or museum admission

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Intern


From the Figge Front: Break Time

After two weeks of driving to the Figge daily we’re taking a break. The Chicago teams have returned to their land of Cubs and Bears, and Team UIMA is back at Menards catching up on other projects. And we’re not the only ones doing this: Now that the students are gone, Studio Arts (SA) construction workers are rushing to reconfigure the building before classes begin again. Want to know the difference in sound between sawing through concrete flooring and drilling into metal? I learned that the other day. I learned that right before I invested in ear plugs.

Some of the projects we’re working on at SA right now:

UIMA @the IMU (The Richey Ballroom): We’re identifying objects from our collection to exhibit in this newly renovated educational museum space, which will open to the UI community and the public in August.

African conservation prep: We’ve been fundraising to conserve some of our top African works and are now beginning to plan for a conservator to visit the Figge and work on those pieces that were identified pre-flood as needing attention.

Database entry: Now that we have a break, it’s time to enter all of the information we’ve been recording (re: object locations at the Figge) into our electronic database back at the UIMA office.

We anticipate resuming our eastern migratory patterns in July. This is when we expect the Chicagoans to return to these, our "Fields of Opportunities," and we will continue to welcome back our masks and textiles, our Goyas and Piranesis.

--Melissa Hueting, UIMA Assistant to the Director for Special Programs and Curatorial Assistant



I just posted some photographs from the ongoing construction at the Richey Ballroom in the Iowa Memorial Union on Flickr. This space on the third floor will soon become a visual classroom for the UIMA, housing a broad cross-section of works from our collection that will be useful for classes. Workers are busy transofrming the former ballroom and event space into a climate controlled room-within-a-room for the art. The ballroom will open Aug. 20. Here's a slideshow for you to check out.

--Maggie Anderson, UIMA Marketing and Media Manager


Video feature: When Values Collide, lecture with Lee Rosenbaum

If you missed Lee Rosenbaum's Elliott Society lecture about museum deaccessioning controversies in April, now you can watch it online at the UIMA's lecture video channel! We will be posting lectures, artist talks, and any other UIMA programs we think people would be interested in at uima.blip.tv. We'll continue posting the videos here on the blog, but if you'd like to watch them in a larger format, be sure to check out the channel!

Also, if you're interested in seeing more UIMA videos, check out our YouTube channel, where we'll be posting shorter videos. There will be many posted there soon about paintings in the "A Legacy for Iowa" exhibit at the Figge.

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Intern

Veteran cultural journalist and "CultureGrrl" blogger Lee Rosenbaum speaks about art museum deaccessioning controversies in the University of Iowa Museum of Art's Spring 2009 Elliott Society lecture series. Iowa City-based attorney David Bright, who serves on the American Bar Associations Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee and the UIMA Members Council, joins Rosenbaum for the talk on April 15, 2009. The programs focus is especially relevant for the UIMA in light of the year's events. In 2008, at the request of the Board of Regents, the University of Iowa prepared an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of deaccessioning the Museums most celebrated painting, Jackson Pollock's Mural (1943), to cover flood damages the campus suffered in June 2008.


Nearing the flood anniversary

This weekend I clicked onto the UI Libraries' home page to start researching for a paper assigned in my summer art history class, and suddenly something familiar, yet lately absent from my life, caught my eye. The jolly, round face of Big Boy with his giant hamburger was a sight I hadn't seen in awhile, ever since the UIMA's collection was evacuated last summer. The poor guy still smiled through the layer of plastic wrap enveloping him.

The picture of Big Boy linked to the UI Libraries' Iowa Digital Library Flood Collection, an online compilation of over 3,400 photographs taken by the University News Services of the flood and its aftermath (including pictures of the water's impact on the former UIMA building—inside and out). The collection also includes oral history interviews recorded by the UI Anthropology Department and StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization that has recorded and archived more than 25,000 interviews throughout the country since 2003, making it the largest oral history project of its kind.

The Iowa Digital Library Flood Collection preserves the flood experience and commemorates the anniversary, coming up next week. Exactly one year ago on June 13, the UIMA was forced to close its doors after evacuating its 12,000-piece collection under the threat of rising floodwaters. It's hard to comprehend all that has changed for the UIMA in a single year: leaving the Riverside Drive building for good, moving the collection to Chicago and then to the Figge, renovating campus space for temporary galleries, and contemplating the next big project—envisioning a new museum building. It's been an action-packed year for the UIMA staff, no doubt.

If you were in Iowa City during those days of flooding, your memories, like mine, are probably still just as vivid and always will be. For more than 35 eastern Iowans, those memories will be archived with the Library of Congress by StoryCorps, preserved as a part of the country's history. The 45-minute recordings are up for listening on the Iowa Digital Library Flood Collection site and include participants such as UI President Sally Mason and her husband, who talk about moving the UIMA collection, and also members of the UI arts community. UI School of Art and Art History professors John Scott and Steve McGuire talk about their personal losses in the flood (McGuire lost both his office and his house), the changes that resulted for the School of Art and Art History (relocating around 142 classes to "MenArts" in the span of a month and a half), and the importance of campus culture and community. Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson and Production Manager Kenneth Schumacher talk about the flood's impact on the auditorium and what both evacuation and clean-up was like.

When they came to Iowa City last October, I interviewed one of the StoryCorps facilitators, Anna Walters, about the organization and her thoughts on hearing the firsthand accounts of the flood. I thought I'd post the interview here for anyone interested:

For more reflections on the flood experience, read this UIMA Art Matters' post from last July featuring a story written by Shanti Roundtree, an editor with the local publishing company Buckle Down, about her personal experience of evacuating her home off Riverside Drive during the flood.

It was definitely a week (and a year) none of us will forget.

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Intern


From the Figge Front: Bringing it Back

“Here, smell this,” I say to the art conservator while leaning over an African textile. “Good?”

“Good,” she confirms.

“Excellent. Next textile.”

And with that, another of the 12,000 artworks from the UIMA’s collection is considered "checked in" at the Figge Museum. Or is it? If only it were that simple. What’s involved with the check-in process, exactly? Glad you asked...

But first, the players:
  • Team UIMA: Jeff Martin (Registrar), Kathy Edwards (Chief Curator), Steve Erickson (Preparator), Whitney Day (Registrarial assistant), Nathan Popp (Curatorial assistant), Melissa Hueting (Curatorial assistant, Assistant extraordinaire)
  • Team Terry Dowd (art handlers/movers): An assortment of young men, all of whom are artists in their own right. Word on the street is that in order to be hired by Terry Dowd, you have to present your portfolio with your application. A very pleasant, hard-working group. It’s not uncommon to find traces of googly-eye stickers on backpacks/purses and cell phones wherever the TD boys have been. And donuts. They are always accompanied by donuts.
  • Team O’Connell International Arts, Inc.: A crew from Chicago who help handle the art and document any damages we discover.
A day in the life...
Team UIMA begins the one-hour trek to Davenport by 8:00 am, car-pooling whenever possible. Steve, Jeff, Whitney and I have grown accustomed to riding together. We meet at Steve’s house and, if you get there early enough, Steve’s son Adam will give you a tour of his latest artworks and offer you some of his breakfast. What’s usually on the menu at the Erickson household? Coffee (for the adults) and pancakes or naan. Worth arriving early! And Adam’s latest artistic creation: a handmade kite kit—very cool!

After the hour ride, during which we generally listen to a comedian or book on CD, we arrive at the Figge and sign in with security. Next, we pile into the over-sized elevator (the same that was able to fit the huge Sam Gilliam painting in it—see photo below) and are swiped up to the secured fourth floor, which is where we prepare to receive the art.
Art movers fit Sam Gilliam's Red April (1970) into the Figge's giant elevator. The painting is more than 9 feet tall and more than 13 feet wide.

The whole fourth floor is ours. We set up work stations in the main space. These stations include two table groupings: one for examining works on paper and the other for objects. Kathy and Nathan sit at the works on paper table, waiting for the art to arrive. Whitney and I are stationed at the objects table, waiting as well.

Kathy and Nathan checking in works on paper.

African art sits on the fourth-floor object work table.

A truck arrives from Chicago, laden with art and art movers. They check in each box with Jeff Martin as they bring them from the truck to the fourth floor. Then the boxes enter the main space of the fourth floor. Some of the art movers continue to bring art from the truck to the fourth floor, while others start unpacking the art for us, one box at a time. For example, a box might have three African masks in it. The art movers will bring the box to the objects station and Whitney and I document the Terry Dowd shipping number, the Chicago Conservation Center number, and the UIMA number, all of which are written on the box’s exterior. Next, each of the three pieces within the box has a UIMA accession number and a CCC number, which need to be recorded. When the three objects are placed on the padded table, we examine each piece for new damage (i.e., cracks in wood from humidity, breaks from being bumped during transit).

Steve (right) helps unpack an African work.

After that, we look through the box and all of the packing material, in order to confirm that nothing remains in the box (artworks or fragments having been broken off). Once we’ve finished this box, we’re ready for the next. The art movers place the three African masks on a cart that is bound for the downstairs storage (one of three storage locations that we’re utilizing at the Figge). Steve Erickson receives the cart and, with assistance, locates the objects. Locating an object entails documenting the accession number and assigning the object to a numbered shelf. When the African masks are finally placed on the shelf, they are considered officially checked in.

So, back to the textiles: I have discovered that the easiest way to evaluate a textile’s condition is to smell it for mildew. Not having been trained as a connoisseur of mildews, I studied up before beginning to work with these objects. Additionally, one of the girls from O’Connell is an object conservator who spent time in the South after Hurricane Gustav. Her advice: “When it’s mildewed, you’ll know. Trust me, you’ll know.” So far, the collection is looking (and smelling) good!

--Melissa Hueting, UIMA Assistant to the Director for Special Programs and Curatorial Assistant