The long-awaited new University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art has opened

After 14 years, the University of Iowa finally has an art museum again, and the long-awaited $50 million facility will open on Friday, August 26.

The University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art (at 160 W. Burlington St., Iowa City) overlooks Gibson Square Park adjacent to the UI Main Library. The facility was built on a former library parking lot, and that parking lot is now partially enclosed under the museum.

The entrance to the new art museum, which overlooks Gibson Square Park on campus.

The three-story, 63,000-square-foot museum was built by Davenport-based Russell Construction, which also built the 2005 Figge Art Museum at 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport. After the old University of Iowa Art Museum flooded in 2008, Fieg stored 14,000 items from the UI collection — which now numbers about 20,000 items.

Its most prized possession is Jackson Pollock’s “Mural,” considered by many to be the most important modern American painting. After nine years touring Europe and the United States, the 8-by-20-foot painting is finally in Iowa City, where it will be on view when the museum reopens on Aug. 26.

Stanley Museum of Art Director Lauren Lessing and museum collections staff welcomed the “mural” in a 3,200-pound crate on July 14. After transforming into a new environment, the 1943 painting ascended to the second floor of the museum in a custom freight elevator and is now there. Permanently displayed in the Chris and Susie DeWolf Family Gallery.

Jackson Pollock’s “Graffiti” returns to the Stanley Museum of Art in July 2022.

The “mural” — which was initially exhibited in Fig through 2012 — traveled more than 20,000 miles to 14 locations on trucks, cargo planes and boats, and was viewed by more than 2.7 million people after leaving Iowa City on a planned world tour. After the 2008 flood, according to the museum.

In 2012, the “mural” underwent two years of technical study and conservation treatment by research scientists at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, followed by J. Solo exhibitions were held at the Paul Getty Museum and the Sioux City Art Center in Iowa.

Begun in 2015, the UI Museum of Art, Jackson Pollock’s ‘Mural’: Energy Made Visible, was the centerpiece of an exhibition hosted by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy; Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, Berlin; and Museo Picasso Málaga,
Málaga, Spain.

After that exhibition ended in 2016, “Mural” anchored exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Art, London; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City.

Art museum employees stand in front of a Pollock “mural.”

The “mural” “marks an important moment in Pollock’s career and is a beacon for art lovers everywhere,” the museum said in a statement. The Stanley’s inaugural exhibit, “Homecoming,” will include a “mural.”
600 works of art in all media by nearly 500 artists.

“We’re bringing home all the wonderful works of art that people miss the most – the rock stars of the Stanley Art Museum,” Lessing said. The new Steinle Museum of Art will be officially dedicated at 3 p.m. August 26, followed by its grand opening ceremony August 26-28.

Many activities planned

The dedication on Aug. 26, 3-4 p.m., will include remarks by UI President Barbara Wilson and Stanley Museum Art Director Lauren Lessing.

Art Museum Director Lauren Lessing spoke at a media preview in the lobby in April (photo by Jonathan Turner).

If you are unable to attend in person, the dedication will be streamed live on the Stanley website.

Following the dedication, light refreshments will be served in Gibson Square Park.

Beginning at 4:30 p.m., visitors can explore the galleries and enjoy curatorial introductions. homecoming, the inaugural exhibition. Art making activities in the park will be available throughout the evening and there will be live music starting at 6pm

Presented in association with UI SCOPE Productions, featured bands are Tresreach, Pictoria Vark, and Houndmouth.

Free popcorn, lemonade and water will be available at Gibson Square Park from 5 to 9 p.m.

Light wells open to the sky, part of the three-story, 63,000-square-foot museum (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Get directions and parking information.

Find out where to stay and what to enjoy while you visit Iowa City.

Limited seating will be provided. Members of the public are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs. Bring the family, bring your friends, stay for the fun!

Celebrate Stanley all weekend!

Friday, August 26

  • Art Stations, Gibson Square Park:4-9 p.m
    Come in and create your own art, take a fun photo or contribute to a community art project.
  • Curator talks, galleries, 4-5:30 p.m
    Join the curators of homecoming on the second floor for a brief, informal introduction to the exhibition themes.
  • Galleries are closed 8:30 p.m
  • Live Music, Gibson Square Park, 6-9 p.m
    Bring a chair and listen to live music from Tresreach, Pictoria Vark, and Houndmouth. In Gibson Square Park!
    Free popcorn, lemonade and water will be available at evening food trucks in Gibson Square Park from 5pm to 9pm.(Keeping up with Jones and Caribbean Kitchen) Food will be parked on the street between Stanley and the main library for purchase.

Saturday, August 27

  • Art Station, Gibson Square Park, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m
    Come in and create your own art, take a fun photo or contribute to a community art project.
  • homecoming Tours, 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m
    Join a 45-minute docent-led tour that provides an overview of homecoming, highlights work you remember and introduces you to recent acquisitions. Tour sizes are limited; Visit the lobby reception desk to participate.
  • The galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m
  • Juggling Demonstration and Workshop, Gibson Square Park, 3:15 p.m
    Luther Bangert will perform 10 minutes of juggling and dancing in an hour. Between performances Bangert will practice and take lessons in the art of juggling.
  • Director’s Reception, Lobby, 4:45 p.m
    Stanley Museum of Art Director Lauren Lessing will share her plans for the museum and ways visitors of all ages can participate in museum activities throughout the year.
  • Cedar Rapids Opera Performance, Lobby, 5-5:30 p.m
    A special display of selections from Grant Wood Opera: Stroke of Genius. Seating is limited and first come, first served.
  • special performance By DJ Simeon Talley Gibson Square Park, 6-9pm
    Spend Saturday night in the park! Enjoy music and food after visiting the museum.
    Free donuts and coffee (10 a.m.-noon) and popcorn, lemonade, and water (noon-9 p.m.) will be available at Gibson Square Park.
    Throughout the day, food trucks will be parked on the street between Stanley and the main library for food purchases.

Sunday, August 28

  • homecoming Tours, noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m
    Join a 45-minute docent-led tour that provides an overview of homecoming, highlights work you remember and introduces you to recent acquisitions. Tour sizes are limited; Visit the lobby reception desk to participate.
  • Galleries open at 5:30 p.m
  • Performance by the Steve Grismore Trio, Lobby 1 to 3 p.m
  • Performance by the Wilder-Hill Players, Lobby 3 p.m
    Free cookies and coffee (5:30 p.m.) will be available in the lobby.

For more information on the museum, click here.

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