University of Iowa will move ahead with Museum of Art planning

Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories flood protection and property purchase also approved

The design and budget for a removable flood wall to be built around the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories was also a
The design and budget for a removable flood wall to be built around the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories was also approved by the Board of Regents. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

The University of Iowa will move ahead with planning on a new Museum of Art facility, and officials said they will look to a public-private partnership for the project.

The state Board of Regents gave approval to proceed with planning Wednesday.

There's no cost estimate on the museum plan yet, but UI officials said they will pursue a public-private partnership in seeking ideas for the best way to house the university's collection in a location where students and faculty can easily access it. The museum was displaced by the 2008 flood.

The new museum might be a multiuse facility that houses the UI art collection along with commercial entities, such as restaurants or retail shops, UI President Sally Mason said. The possible costs will vary depending on how much of the facility is the museum and how much is something else, she said. The plan will be paid for with private gifts and university funds.

"It really is going to depend on who steps forward to join us in a partnership, then we'll have a better idea of what an estimate might be," Mason said. "We're not going to rule anything out at this point."

Pursuing a public-private partnership is made easier by the fact that no federal dollars are involved in the project, said Doug True, UI senior vice president for finance and operations. UI officials will gather information and ideas and ultimately return to the regents with a plan for approval.

"We're anxious to move forward on this," Mason said. "You can expect the next year will be pretty active in terms of getting to a resolution."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied UI appeals for replacement funds to build a new art museum away from the Iowa River, so UI officials will explore options for a new museum without FEMA funding. Since the 2008 flood, most of the UI collection has been housed at the Figge Museum in Davenport. The collection has nearly 12,500 objects valued at more than $500 million.

University leaders also received approval to proceed with planning on permanent recovery of the former Museum of Art building. The collection can't be returned to that building for insurance reasons, but FEMA will help pay to repair it to pre-flood condition. That project is estimated at $2.5 million. The building, part of which is being used by the displaced School of Music, will in the future be used for an academically-related function to be determined.

Other UI flood-recovery items approved by the regents include:

* The design and budget for a removable flood wall to be built around the Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories. It will be similar to the removable wall built around Art Building West after the 2008 flood, which was installed last week in preparation for possible flooding. The permanent flood recovery of IATL is estimated at $18.3 million and includes the wall, repairing damaged portions of the building's exterior metal skin and an extensive below-ground dewatering and pumping system.* The UI purchase of property at 1100 N. Dubuque Street from Nathaniel and Samantha Kaeding at a price of $6,000. The vacant square-shaped parcel consisting of 1,480 square feet is adjacent to Mayflower Residence Hall and is needed to enable flood mitigation and flood wall construction at Mayflower already approved by the regents.

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