Saturdays at the Stanley offer a personal look at the UI’s art museum

The new Saturdays at the Stanley series will offer attendees an up-close look at un-displayed artwork in the museum's collection.

Attendees+observe+Jean+Metzinger%27s+%22Two+Nudes+in+a+Garden%22+during+a+Pointillism+workshop+at+the+Stanley+Art+Museum+on+Saturday+March+9.+The+event+was+a+collaboration+between+the+art+and+theater+department.+
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Saturdays at the Stanley offer a personal look at the UI’s art museum

Attendees observe Jean Metzinger's

Attendees observe Jean Metzinger's "Two Nudes in a Garden" during a Pointillism workshop at the Stanley Art Museum on Saturday March 9. The event was a collaboration between the art and theater department.

Ryan Adams

Attendees observe Jean Metzinger's "Two Nudes in a Garden" during a Pointillism workshop at the Stanley Art Museum on Saturday March 9. The event was a collaboration between the art and theater department.

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Attendees observe Jean Metzinger's "Two Nudes in a Garden" during a Pointillism workshop at the Stanley Art Museum on Saturday March 9. The event was a collaboration between the art and theater department.

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

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Students in Iowa City can spend their Saturdays cheering on the Hawkeyes or catching up on homework — and now the Stanley Museum of Art hopes to give the community a chance to interact with art on the weekends as well.

A new event series called Saturdays at the Stanley aims to draw students and the Iowa City community to the museum to learn about interesting works in the museum’s collection, said assistant curator for the museum Kimberly Datchuk.

The idea for Saturdays at the Stanley originated last spring when the University of Iowa Theatre Department presented Sunday in the Park with George, a musical about the work of artist George Seurat, Datchuk said.

While the Stanley doesn’t have works by Seurat, Datchuk said she wanted to plan an event at the museum to coincide with the musical. 

“We don’t have any Seurat, but we had some things related to that style that he used…and that kind of subject matter, being out in the park for leisure,” she said. “We had a great crowd for it, and we decided to keep it going, because it was a great opportunity to connect with our community and our students and show them some works in our collection that we don’t have on display.”

Datchuk said while some events are designed to appeal to students, she is also interested in attracting other aspects of the UI and Iowa City community to Saturdays at the Stanley. 

“We have some things that students might like, but also connecting to other parts of our community that we haven’t been able to reach as much,” Datchuk said. “We’re looking especially at professionals and families and things that they might be interested in, too.” 

On most weekends without a home Hawkeye football game, a series of events are scheduled at the Stanley. Datchuk said a variety of planned themes connect with different areas on campus. 

The first Saturday at Stanley took place on Sept. 21, with an event titled Hidden Stories: What CT scans reveal about the Stanley’s African Art.

Cory Gundlach, curator of the arts of Africa, Oceana and the Americas, presented research he conducted on a Boli figure in the Stanley’s collection. 

Gundlach’s work involves collaboration between departments across campus, using CT scanners at UI Hospitals and Clinics to examine the contents of the Boli figures. 

RELATED: Stanley Museum of Art, UIHC use CT scans on African art

“The goal for this partnership was to use their CT scanner to look at what’s inside of these things so I could learn about the objects that empower them,” he said. “So this is not technology that we have at our disposal here in the museum. Luckily, here on campus, we have such amazing resources to develop partnerships and to do things like this.” 

Known as power objects, the contents inside the figures Gundlach studies are believed to give the artwork spiritual power. The CT scan can provide clues as to what is hiding inside the vessel. 

The first Saturdays at the Stanley event amassed an entire crowd of curious individuals. The presentation transitioned smoothly into a Q&A about the Boli and Gundlach’s research. 

The museum’s director Lauren Lessing expressed interest in Gundlach’s story about stripping the Boli of their power objects once they reach the end of their useful life. 

“I’m fascinated by the idea of them being decommissioned,” she said. “They’re going to be sold, so take what’s powerful in them out and, sure, you can have the shell. That’s interesting.” 

 

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