9.17.2009

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.


The lecture is the first of three talks in the UIMA's Fall 2009 Elliott Society Lecture Series. The remaining two lectures, for museum donors at the Elliott Society level and above, will be presented at the same time and location on Wednesdays, Sept. 30 and Oct. 14, with the respective themes "Around the World in the Richey Ballroom: A Global Perspective" and "The Collection in Action!" Pamela K. Geyer and John P. Mehegan, Mary Lea M. and Richard H. Kruse and Robert A. Rasley are sponsoring the lecture series.

The Richey Ballroom posed some unique problems for the exhibition designer.

"First, we had to figure out how to create a venue for all of the different categories of art that the museum wanted to represent in a space that was maybe one-tenth of the size of the old museum building," Erickson said.

More complications arose when it came time to add museum standard climate control and security, difficulties for an older repurposed building. Erickson said the solution was to build a separate room within the Richey Ballroom. This also provided a helpful blank slate for the museum staff to carry out their visions of the UIMA@IMU's layout.

With the completion of the $1 million renovation, those familiar with the Richey Ballroom may not recognize it. The carpet has been removed to reveal the original maple ballroom floor, sanded and polished to a gleam. The ceiling has been lowered from a height of up to 18 feet to nearly 12 feet, and the windows have been closed off to allow for light and climate control. Newly painted white walls divide the 4,000-square-foot room into discrete sections, including a glass-walled classroom designated for close study of art.

"Now that the space is finished, I hope that, besides enjoying themselves, visitors to the UIMA@IMU will realize how important it is to have a Museum of Art presence on campus and how visual thinking is an important part of the educational experience," Erickson said. "There is no substitute for a confrontation with actual objects that the museum can provide."

Opened to the public on Sept. 8, the UIMA@IMU holds more than 500 works of art from the museum's collection and serves as a temporary location while the UIMA is displaced because of the June 2008 flood.

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 as 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 be relocated to the UIMA@IMU.

Regular public hours for the UIMA@IMU are 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 is closed Mondays and on university holidays. Classroom use is available by appointment.

The UI Museum of Art offices have been relocated to the Studio Arts Building, 1275 Highway 1 West (Old Menards) in Iowa City. 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.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-384-0037, steven-parrott@uiowa.edu; Writer: Claire Lekwa

1 comment:

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