New Stanley Campus Council to connect students with art on campus

A new student advisory board, the Stanley Campus Council, will plan social events to engage students with the museum.

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New Stanley Campus Council to connect students with art on campus

Gibson Square is seen on May 1, 2019. Gibson Square will be the sight of the new Stanley Art Museum. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Gibson Square is seen on May 1, 2019. Gibson Square will be the sight of the new Stanley Art Museum. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Gibson Square is seen on May 1, 2019. Gibson Square will be the sight of the new Stanley Art Museum. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Gibson Square is seen on May 1, 2019. Gibson Square will be the sight of the new Stanley Art Museum. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

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While the Stanley Museum of Art has been without a permanent home for several years, the museum staff members are working to create opportunities for students to engage with the nearly 17,000 works of art in the collection.

A new Stanley Campus Council, made up of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, will help to create social programming to get students and the campus community involved with the art housed in the Stanley.

Brady Plunger, the associate curator of education at the Stanley, said the campus council is the first step in increasing the museum’s student-engagement efforts ahead of the opening of the new museum in 2022.

“This campus council is really the way that we’re looking to begin in re-engaging the campus, because we really haven’t been a large presence on campus since the flood,” he said. “This campus council, it’s the first step of our strategy to reintroduce the student body to our Art Museum, because it belongs to all of [them].”

Stanley Director Lauren Lessing said in a previous interview with <i>The Daily Iowan</i> that the campus council is a chance for students to engage with the museum before the opening of the new museum.

“That group [campus council] will have a budget, and we’re inviting them to create programs for other students in the new museum space — even before we have a museum — we’re working on programs for students,” Lessing said.

Plunger said he plans to have at least 10 to 20 students on the campus council, although there is the potential to accommodate more.

Rachel Cobler, a curatorial research assistant at the Stanley, said she hopes to have students with backgrounds beyond art history in the campus council.

“We set ourselves up with a much looser structure than just having a board,” she said. “We want to give students the opportunity to give input into what we’re doing, how we’re reaching out to other students on campus.”

RELATED: New Stanley Art Museum breaks ground, ‘beginning of the end’ in flood recovery 

The campus council will oversee planning of social events to connect students and the Stanley. Plunger said some examples could include late-night open houses, free coffee, and live music and dance performances.

Cobler emphasized events that allow students to destress through art.

“How do we help students during finals week when they’re super-stressed — art has such a powerful way of releasing emotion, of destressing,” she said. “I could see meditation sessions, where it’s a way of being around something that is a calming space.”

The museum also created a new student position, the Campus Engagement Coordinator, who will oversee the work of the campus council.

Plunger said the new paid student position will allow students to have a more active voice in the activities of the Stanley.

“It’s bringing in a student voice at the very ground level. They will manage our campus outreach efforts through the programs that we do and the events that we have,” he said. “We have money allocated for campus programming, and that person will help decide how the money is spent — they are the lead voice of all of that.”

Beyond connecting with the art in the museum, Plunger said the events and programs planned by the campus council will give students a chance to make connections with each other.

“We’re just now taking those steps to really get ourselves more into the consciousness of people on campus as a place to experience the art and creativity — and as a place to hang out and connect with people on campus,” he said. “It’s really one of the best things that art can do — it’s an amazing connector between people.”