First glimpse of the new UI Stanley Museum of Art building, a work of art in itself
With its official opening just months away, the Stanley Museum of Art held its first tour of the nearly completed interior on Tuesday, April 12.
The smell of fresh paint still fills the new Stanley Museum of Art, which is due to open on August 26.
From the polished concrete floors, the black steel-lined windows that stretch from floor to ceiling, and a surprisingly vivid, multi-colored abstract mural that can be seen from down the street on Madison Street, the museum lobby does not is just an introduction to the University of Iowa’s new artistic paragon.
Years of planning, designing and rebuilding the new Stanley Museum have nearly come to an end more than a decade since the original Stanley Museum of Art was destroyed in the 2008 flood.
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Construction of the museum was largely completed in December 2021. While the original opening date had been set for September 2, 2022, it was brought forward for a week of “homecoming” celebrations after the ceremonial opening. initial inauguration.
Stanley Museum staff are currently planning the process of moving some of the extensive UI art collection into space, including its famous Jackson Pollock painting from 1943, Wall.
The abstract mural located in the lobby of the museum, designed by the Philadelphia artist Odili Donald Odita, is meant to mirror Pollock’s play. This will be a temporary installation, and the first in a series of lobby artworks called “Thresholds”.
Odita, who often uses bright but specific colors in his work, said that for many years he only saw Pollock’s works through black-and-white images in textbooks. When he first saw Wall in person, he was immediately inspired by Pollock’s choice of colors, which impacted his own mural for the Stanley, Surroundings.
He said that while he is honored to be chosen as the first artist to exhibit artwork in the lobby of the Stanley, he prefers to focus on his process and design rather than the attention he gets. it will attract.
“I don’t like to think about how people will react to it,” Odita said. “These murals that I do really speak to the spaces in which they are placed.”
Aside from the lobby, which gives a taste of the contemporary architectural style of the museum, the building is an impressive example of modern art itself. The second floor is almost entirely dedicated to gallery space, with several thousand square feet of vacant walls and visible exhibit storage.
Stanley Museum of Art director Lauren Lessing said of IU’s 17,000-piece art collection, the museum’s inaugural exhibition will include 1,000 individual works of art, including a handful on loan from d other museums and institutions.
“A lot of the walls in our galleries are moveable so we can rearrange the scale and size of these galleries to suit different types of exhibits,” Lessing said during an April 12 media tour of the space. “[The galleries] are just a blank page right now. Our inaugural exhibition…is planned, but the curators are still working with our exhibit designers.
On the third floor, several individual classrooms can be booked by UI teachers, students, and members of the Iowa City community. Two types of classrooms are available, one being what Lessing calls a “visual classroom” and the other a “visual lab”, where teachers can request items from the art collection for temporary display. .
“Flexibility is the name of the game here,” Lessing said. “It will really allow us to do work, like the 17,000 objects that we have in our collection, pretty much without exception, we can make available to people through these classroom spaces.”
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The visual classrooms, which have a capacity of about 40 students, have wooden panels along each wall that fold out into art easels. The visual labs, which can accommodate approximately 30 students, have glass display cases built into each wall that can display a variety of pieces for anyone using the space.
Some of Lessing’s favorite aspects of the building include the “skylight” – a small outdoor space in the center of the building in which attendees can stand and gaze across the building’s three floors – and the museum’s front terrace which overlooks on Gibson Square Park.
Lessing said she hopes to host live performances to convey that the museum is not just a space for fine arts, but also for theater, music and other disciplines.
Ultimately, Lessing said she’s excited for the museum’s upcoming opening and feels very lucky as director to have a brand new, state-of-the-art building.
“There are generations of students who haven’t had the opportunity to really experience our entire collection,” Lessing said. “I’m incredibly honored to be the director who can open it up and welcome people back to experience this art collection that belongs to the people of the state of Iowa.”