UI Stanley Museum of Art to celebrate dedication, grand opening

Music and art will combine when the Stanley Museum of Art at the University of Iowa celebrates the dedication of its new building and inaugural exhibition. back homefrom August 26 to 28.

The museum and its more than 1,700 works of art are coming home for the first time since 2008, when flooding forced the museum to close and eventually find a new home on campus.

To celebrate the new building and reopening, the museum, located at 160 W. Burlington St., has planned a weekend of art, music, food and entertainment. The official dedication and opening speech will take place on Friday, August 26 at 3:00 p.m., followed by musical performances, art stations, live shows and guided tours by back home.

“I am delighted to see how visitors react to our inaugural exhibition, back home,” says Lauren Lessing, director of the UI Stanley Museum of Art. “It is the culmination of years of work by all museum staff to bring this collection home and install it in our galleries in a way that shocks and awes our audiences. Art has never looked better.”


To watch a live stream of the dedication ceremony at 3:00 PM on Friday, August 26, click the link in the photo below.


The new home means new beginnings for the museum. Lessing says museum staff are taking risks and pushing boundaries with the opening exhibit, doing things in the museum today that have never been done before.

“We offer the texts of our gallery in English and Spanish. We are displaying our world-class collection of African art in a new way that breaks with the anthropological models we have followed in the past, and that emphasizes movement and dialogue. We are showing art that is new to the collection and artworks that have rarely been shown alongside old favorites,” says Lessing.

The goal, Lessing says, is to display art in a way that evokes curiosity and allows visitors to see familiar pieces of art in new and surprising ways.

The grand reopening has been a long time coming. The art collection was without a permanent home for 14 years. The new building on Burlington Street, adjacent to the UI Main Library and Gibson Square Park, received approval from the Iowa State Board of Regents in 2017. The following year, a generous gift from Richard and Mary Jo Stanley gave the museum its new name, and in 2019, the university began construction on the three-story, 45,000-square-foot building we see today.

“The university has been totally behind this project,” says Lessing. “If UI leaders hadn’t made this museum a fundraising priority, if they hadn’t allowed us to start the new building before the capital campaign ended, or if they hadn’t allowed the project to building continued during the pandemic, we would not be here today.

“I am so grateful for their faith and dedication to ensuring that the University of Iowa remains a great public university for the arts.”

Admission to the UI Stanley Museum of Art is free and open to the public. Seating for the opening weekend celebration is limited, so attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or chair.

Visitors can explore the galleries and enjoy the curator’s presentations back home after Friday’s opening ceremonies, and 45 minutes, led by a teacher back home tours will be available at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, August 27; and at noon, at 2 p.m. and at 4 p.m. Sunday, August 28.

Gallery hours for the weekend are 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, August 26; from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, August 27; and from noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, August 28.

A full schedule of entertainment and events is available at stanleymuseum.uiowa.edu event/94426/0.

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