UI planning groundbreaking for Stanley Museum of Art

The UI will soon break ground on the Stanley Museum of Art after the facility flooded in 2008.


A June 2017 exterior rendering of the Stanley Museum of Art facility looking west from Gibson Square and Madison Street. (Source: State Board of Regents)

Sarah Stortz and Marissa Payne

After the Stanley Museum of Art has been without a permanent home since the 2008 flood, the University of Iowa will soon break ground on the museum’s new space.

The UI will host a groundbreaking ceremony at 3 p.m. June 7 in Gibson Square Park.

The project will bid in June, with construction beginning around the fall of 2019 for the $50 million project. It’s estimated the museum will open in 2022.

“I am overjoyed that we will be breaking ground for our beautiful new building this summer, and grateful to the many generous donors whose support has made this groundbreaking possible,” Stanley Museum of Art Director Lauren Lessing said in a statement. “It’s been a long wait, but in just a few years we will be able to bring the Stanley’s world-class collections home to support the education of UI students and to enrich the lives of people across our state. With its welcoming front porch, spacious lobby, art-filled galleries, and rooftop terraces, the new building will be an ideal gathering place for those who want to learn, socialize, relax, and enjoy themselves.”

On completion, the 63,000-square-foot building will showcase exhibitions from the museum’s collection, traveling exhibits, art storage, and study spaces. There will also be staff offices, conference rooms, visual-arts classrooms, and a number of parking stalls under the facility.

The structure will be the final iteration of the museum since the 2008 flood and will be built above the 500-year flood plain to limit potential of future flooding.

The former museum of art located on Riverside Drive was flooded in 2008, but did not receive FEMA funding for its replacement. Funds for the new museum rely largely on donations. A portion of its collection — which contains more than 14,500 pieces valued at more than $500 million — is currently housed on the third floor of the IMU.

Fundraising has helped bring the structure together. Currently, the UI has raised $20 million for the art museum, with contributions from more than 344 donors, according to the UI.

Funding for the operation and maintenance of the art museum once the project is complete is expected to continue coming from the UI general-education fund, according to documents from the state Board of Regents.

The regents approved the project’s schematic design and budget in June 2017.

Richard and Mary Jo Stanley, of Muscatine, Iowa, in December 2017 committed $10 million to the project. The UI renamed the facility in April 2018 to the UI Stanley Museum of Art to recognize the Stanleys’ contribution.