University of Iowa to loan Pollock painting to Des Moines Art Center

Painting to be displayed in Des Moines from April 5 to July 15

This Oct. 17, 2002, file photo shows the University of Iowa's painting titled
This Oct. 17, 2002, file photo shows the University of Iowa's painting titled "Mural" by Jackson Pollock. (AP Photo/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Deb Barber, File)

The famed Jackson Pollock painting owned by the University of Iowa Museum of Art will be displayed for several months at the Des Moines Art Center, UI officials announced Wednesday.

"Mural" will be in Des Moines April 5 through July 15. The painting has been on display at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport for nearly three years, after the UI Museum of Art building was evacuated and the art removed during the June 2008 flood.

The idea of touring the painting, even internationally, has been under discussion for about a year, though UI Museum of Art Director Sean O'Harrow on Wednesday said there is no international aspect at this point in time. "Mural," an 8-by-20 foot piece that weights about 300 pounds, is considered by experts to be a landmark painting, establishing Pollock as the world's leading modern painter.

Past suggestions that the university sell the painting, valued at $140 million, during times of tight budgets have stirred controversy, and UI officials have opposed such a sale. The painting was a gift to the UI in 1951 from Peggy Guggenheim.

The UI is loaning the painting, officials said. The Des Moines Art Center is paying the cost of transporting the painting to Des Moines. The Art Center and the UI will split the cost of the moving bill, which involves renting a crane that will move the painting on and off the truck, UI officials said. The university's share of that bill will be $9,000, which represents a 50-50 split.

"We are pleased and honored to be given the opportunity to collaborate closely with the wonderful professionals at the Des Moines Art Center on this project to show Iowa’s most famous painting to the citizens of Des Moines and the central Iowa region," O’Harrow said in a statement. "This is an essential part of the University of Iowa’s commitment to share educational and cultural resources to a state-wide constituency."

The UI Museum of Art building on campus remains closed, as UI officials await word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding the university appeal to get FEMA funds to replace the flood-damaged museum with a new building elsewhere.

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