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.
UIMA: How did you choose which objects to put on display?

KE: What should and could we exhibit in a new visual classroom? I began to think about this question last fall. There were several limitations to work around. Less space and an insurance cap on the total value. So we could not include our most important paintings. The staff discussed the successes of the past—the Print Study Room, the hands-on ceramics space, our growing outreach to faculty across the humanities. African Art was a must. So was Pre-Columbian. The approach I took was to offer both our strengths: African Art, ceramics, and works on paper—and the global breadth of the collection: Ancient Mediterranean, Ancient Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, art by Ancient and Native Americans—along with popular 20th century subjects like Regionalism and Conceptual Art.

UIMA: What are some of the highlights? Any old favorites? New things to keep an eye out for?

KE: Beyond the Study Room people will see an Etruscan votive offering of an infant from 100-300 BCE; a beautiful selection of Chinese jades and snuff bottles; a Korean Silla Kingdom stem cup; Japanese carved ivories; two Amlash rhytons and some amazing Iranian bowls; Tibetan bronzes; figures from the Olmec, Jalisco, Colima, Maya and other Pre-Columbian peoples; African Arts including recent purchases like the Boli magical figure from Mali (see photo above). A section in the space for American and European narrative art from the 20th century will include old favorites like John Ahern’s “Tom,” and Lee Allen’s “Corn Country.” And in the area for post-modern, more conceptual art, you will see Miriam Schapiro’s handkerchief painting ”Connections” and “Working in the Gap” by Jonathan Seliger. You’ll also see Ken Friedman’s “Button Collection,” which is pretty entertaining, and Han’s Breder’s video “Ikarus,” which features the artist Ana Mendieta as the model.

UIMA: How do you hope the space will be used?

KE: I hope that people will have meaningful experiences in the space—the kind where you are on intimate terms with a single work, and/or the kind where you see connections and relationships between works. This can be accomplished on one's own, with a guide, or with a teacher. We will provide all of these options.

UIMA: Anything else you’d like to add?

KE: Members of the museum's Elliott Society ($150+) will be invited to the Fall 2009 Elliott Society Lecture Series comprised of three presentations about the UIMA@IMU. Call (319) 335-3676 for more information!

Hope you all take some time to go see the art in its new space! To learn more about the UIMA@IMU, see the press release here.

Photos, from top: The hands-on ceramics display at the UIMA@IMU. UIMA Chief Curator Kathleen Edwards (left) and UIMA Manager of Exhibitions and Collections Jeff Martin (right) prepare the UIMA@IMU on Aug. 12. The first object visitors see upon entering the UIMA@IMU is this West African piece, a Sande Mask (sowei) made by the Gola or Vai of Sierra Leone. Some of the UIMA's recent purchases, like this Boli magical figure from Mali, are highlighted in the display.

--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant

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