Some artwork to return to UI


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Thanks to nearly $1 million in grants, UI Museum of Art officials will begin moving artwork back to campus this spring.

A permanent collection of the university’s art will be on display in the 4,000-square-foot IMU Richey Ballroom, UI Museum of Art interim Director Pamela White said.

There will also be an exhibition of African art in the Levitt Center’s Stanley Gallery and rotating exhibits in the IMU’s 1,600-square-foot Black Box Theater.

The project has a budget of slightly more than $1 million, with around 90 percent coming from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant and an additional $30,000 is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, UI spokesman Steve Parrott said. The remaining money will come from the UI budget.

The exhibit in the Levitt Center is slated to open this spring. The Richey Ballroom gallery should be ready by the fall, officials said.

Though the exhibits will have public hours, officials said, they are focusing on bringing back the artwork for UI students.

“It’s nice the public will be able to see it, but the main thrust is providing the students in art history with the academic experience they expect,” Parrott said.

The art had to be evacuated before last summer’s flood, and it has been stored in four locations around Chicago, White said.

“We’ve had a lot of disappointed people this year,” she said.

Through the spring and summer, museum officials will work on transferring all the art to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, White said.

From there, they will move art to the UI campus. Art will continue to be stored in Davenport to allow for rotating exhibits, but the proximity of the new location will make it easier on the museum to work with the art, White said.

Renovations dealing with climate control, lighting, and security will be made to prepare the space to house artwork, White said.

UI junior Brian Kelly, an art student, said having the art here gives students a sense of what they are supposed to be working toward. Kelly was influenced by the famous UI-owned Jackson Pollock painting Mural, among other modern works, making sketches based on them, he said.

“It’s been tough not having [the art],” he said.

Parrott said any events that have been scheduled in the Richey Ballroom will be moved to other locations in the IMU or on campus. The recently acquired University Athletics Club will be able to host events that may otherwise have been held in the ballroom, he said.

The move is a temporary solution, and officials are still hoping to move the art back into a UI museum, White said. Even though development of a new museum could take three to five years, she said, she is excited the artwork will again be available for students’ education.

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