The University of Iowa will name a new home for its renowned, nearly 50-year-old art museum for Dick and Mary Jo Stanley of Muscatine, who have committed $10 million toward it.
The couple offered the “transformational gift” in support of the university’s efforts to replace its previous art museum, which was devastated in the historic 2008 flood.
The proposed $50 million project, scheduled to begin next year and wrap in 2020, would be a 63,000-square-foot facility above the 500-year flood plain on a parcel of UI-owned land south of the UI Main Library.
The new museum will have space for staff offices, conference rooms and visual arts classrooms, with parking stalls beneath the facility.
Importantly, its completion will allow the university’s collection — which famously includes Jackson Pollock’s “Mural” — to return home after years of being on the road after its former facility was deemed no longer suitable for art.
Its construction will be funded by a mix of bonds and gifts, such as the one from the Stanleys.
Their gift, first announced Wednesday, represents two generations — as a portion comes from the estate of Dick Stanley’s parents, C. Maxwell and Elizabeth Stanley, who earned UI degrees and later developed one of the nation’s “finest and most well-respected collections of African art,” which they donated to the UI museum in 1985.
Dick Stanley, who earned a master’s degree in engineering at the UI in 1963 and who recently died, also has given large gifts, along with his wife, to Hancher Auditorium and the UI College of Engineering.
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“The Stanley family has made an indelible mark on our university — and on the art world — and we are proud to name the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art in honor of their gift,” UI President Bruce Harreld said in a statement. “Today, our university is stronger because of the Stanleys.”
The university’s original art museum went up in 1969 but was damaged — along with many other UI buildings including Hancher — when floodwaters from the Iowa River inundated the campus in 2008.
Failing to secure funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace the museum, the university in 2014 entered into a partnership to erect a 75,000-square-foot facility on leased private property near Clinton and Burlington streets. That project was supposed to cost $107 million.
But after Harreld took over the next year, he suggested staff seek other options — specifically ones on land the university already owned.
After the flood, the museum’s collection of more than 12,400 pieces, valued at more than $500 million, has been on tour and has drawn record crowds in exhibitions at the Getty in Los Angeles and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy.
The Board of Regents must approve the university’s naming request.
“The decision to name the museum in the Stanleys’ honor is particularly appropriate,” said a statement from Jim Leach, a former Iowa congressman and visiting UI professor of law who has been serving as the museum’s interim director since Jan. 1.
“When future generations visit the museum and see uplifting art from every corner of the world, they also will be witnessing the philanthropic impact of model citizens within and outside the state.”
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