UI moves on new Museum of Art

BY IAN MURPHY | MARCH 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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After losing its home in the 2008 flood, the University of Iowa’s extensive art collection is one step closer to a new home.

UI officials will formally give a report on the replacement for the Museum of Art at the state Board of Regents’ meeting on March 12.

Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management, said the next step for the university is to issue a request for qualifications to developers and landowners.

“We will work with the regents and other universities to assess our options,” Lehnertz said.

The appeal to contractors follows the UI’s request for information that went out to the community in 2013.

Lehnertz said UI officials and Lord Cultural Resources, an international consulting firm recognized in early planning for special projects such as museums, designed the requests.

The consulting firm will remain a part of the project throughout the duration of the project but will not help in designing the building, Lehnertz said.

“They will make sure we take into account the unique challenges,” he said.

Those challenges include controlling the humidity in the buildings and the materials used on the exterior in order to protect the artwork.

According the regents’ agenda released Tuesday, submissions from prospective landowners and developers will be evaluated on the feasibility of the proposed sites, proximity to the UI academic campus, financial capability of the development team, and experience of the development team on projects of similar magnitude.

UI faculty are pleased that the plans for the building are moving forward.

“We’re excited, the students are excited, the public, the people that we talk to are excited,” said Sean O’Harrow, the executive director of the Museum of Art. “We’re going to come up with a great solution.”

O’Harrow said he is excited the university is making progress on finding a permanent home for the collection of art.

Ronald Cohen, a UI associate professor of art who specializes in painting and drawing, said he is also happy the UI is moving forward.

Cohen said he likes using the museum as a teaching tool, especially because it is one of the only resources to see art in the area.

“It’s very difficult to make art without seeing it,” he said.

Cohen, who served on the board of the Museum of Art for 13 years, said seeing the texture and the blending of colors on the canvas is something pictures of artwork can’t offer.

“You can see how it’s made from the inside out,” Cohen said. “You can’t see that with a reproduction.”

The regents and the UI anticipate results from the requests by the end of the summer.

This phase of the project will include selection of a design-consultant team, completion of the design of the building, and the establishment of a proposed lease agreement.

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