Committee eyes downtown area for new art museum


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Some museum enthusiasts on campus would like to see the Museum of Art follow the school of music’s footsteps in moving to downtown.

The UI Museum of Art Envisioning Committee met on Jan. 22 to discuss preliminary proposals of a new museum — including a new location in the Old Capitol District, said Kathleen Edwards, the museum’s chief curator and an adviser to the committee.

Panel members said they like the idea of a site that would make the museum — which was damaged by the 2008 flood — centrally located.

Susan White, a committee member and a UI associate professor of art and art history, said the previous location of the museum on the west bank of the Iowa River did not provide a lot of foot traffic. She would like to see the museum near the hub of the university, she said.

“I am very interested in having a lot of students involved actively in the museum activities,” she said.

In addition to providing more chances for student visibility and involvement, a central location would create more educational opportunities.

Nathan Popp said he would like the museum to to be situated in a location “central to student life” that serves the needs of the community.

Popp, a committee member and graduate assistant at the museum, said it is important the museum serves the school as a whole, noting it is used for many different classes, not just those pertaining to art and art history.

“A new location that caters to both those constituencies is important,” he said.

An emphasis on education is certainly a proposed aspect of the new museum building. Edwards said it is important to include classroom space as well as storage space. The building for the proposed museum would also be larger than the previous one.

Committee members and advisers may look forward to a new museum, but finding a new location is complicated. White noted the decision depends on where the rest of the Arts Campus is located.

She acknowledged rebuilding plans for other flood-damaged buildings will in part determine the location of the museum.

Another aspect is the time it takes in determining where to locate and rebuilding displaced institutions.

As a student, Popp said he would like “a museum that matches our world-class collection but also as soon as possible.”

The committee will meet again Friday to discuss the report and possible revisions.

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