Mason: Art Museum should be built in a public place

BY CASSIDY RILEY | MAY 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa officials say they are not yet sure of how the new art museum will be paid for, but they do want a replacement to be built in a central location.

UI President Sally Mason said in an interview with The Daily Iowan Tuesday that officials are working on a new plan for funding a replacement for the UI Museum of Art.

On March 28, the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the UI’s final appeal for funding for the reconstruction of the Art Museum. FEMA originally denied the UI funding for the museum in 2010, and university officials appealed that decision.

The 2008 flood heavily damaged the Museum of Art, and art has since then been dispersed to different locations, including the IMU Black Box Theater, Figge Art Museum of Davenport, and the Studio Arts Building.

Mason said a funding plan would be ready for presentation to the state Board of Regents by its June meeting.

“That plan is not something we’ll talk about before we present it to the Board of Regents,” she said. “But I would say this: Clearly, fundraising is likely to be involved in whatever we do going forward with the Art Museum. It may or may not be the entire way in which we fund the entire Art Museum. I suspect that we’re going to look at the opportunities for some public/private partnerships.” 

Dana Larson, the executive director of communications and marketing for the UI Foundation, said some funds for the new museum will come out of the foundation’s newly announced fundraising campaign.

“Work is now underway to define how the university will need to support a new Museum of Art facility without federal assistance,” she said. “Private giving will certainly be a part of that plan.”

Mason said another element of the plan would include deciding where the facility should be located, and there is talk of putting in a more central location, such as downtown Iowa City.

“It is likely to be where there are students, and most of the students are located in the central parts of campus,” said Sean O’Harrow, the director of the museum. “It really depends on what opportunities there are. You can’t just plop it anywhere.”

He said it is important to put the museum in an easily accessible location because few people will be willing to travel a long distance to visit it.

“Now, we have a certain amount of freedom to build it where it should be placed,” he said. “Wherever it is built, it will be built where there is the most access for students, staff, and visitors.”

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