Stanley Museum of Art set to be completed on Dec. 23

The new art museum will be completed and turned over to the university on Dec. 23. Lauren Lessing, director of the Stanley Museum of Art, said her team will move the art into the museum in April. The ribbon cutting is set for Sept. 2, 2022.


Larry Phan

The construction of the Stanley Museum is shown on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

Kate Perez, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art will be completed and turned over to the UI to move in on Dec. 23. 

Lauren Lessing, director of the Stanley Museum of Art, said to the UI Staff Council on Wednesday that the building is nearly finished and staff can start settling in in mid-January. 

Art will not move into the museum until April, Lessing told the council, because the new materials in the museum need to be able to “off-gas,” a process where new furnishing can leach chemicals that can damage the paintings. 

The new UI Stanley Museum of Art will contain three floors, two terraces, an underground parking garage, and various collections and galleries. 

“The ceilings are 12 feet high. It’s large enough to accommodate large works of art, but not so large that you feel dwarfed by the proportions of the galleries,” Lessing told the council. “Some of our gallery walls are also moveable walls, and that’s going to allow us to open these spaces into big open spaces for certain exhibitions and then close the spaces down into smaller spaces.” 

The first floor of the museum will contain the lobby, which has a coat room for visitors to leave their outerwear and bags in while they explore the museum, she said. 

The second floor will contain the galleries and will also have a cafe in the future. Lessing said the floor will have staggering doorways in order to help control sound in the museum.

Related: Stanley Museum of Art set to open next fall with inaugural collection

“We know there’s going to be University of Iowa classes, visiting school children in these galleries all the time,” she said. “We want to make sure that can be happening and people can spend a quiet lunch hour here enjoying the art as well without sound bleeding too badly from one gallery into another.”

The museum will contain both spaces for art and three classrooms, Lessing said. The UI’s art collection from the former art museum will be stored on the third floor. 

“We have a seminar room, we have a visual classroom with tables, and then we have a visual laboratory with casework that will allow us to put works of art out for periods of weeks for faculty who’ve built works from the collection into class assignments,” Lessing said. 

Lessing envisions the museum as a place for both the public and student body to come and enjoy, she said. She said she thinks the terraces on the third floor will be of great use to everyone. 

“We’ll have cafe tables and chairs out there for people to sit and have lunch,” she said. “These will also be places where we’ll be doing art activities with visiting school groups, so it’ll be a very busy space during warm parts of the year.”

Visitors will also be able to enjoy collections and pieces that were displayed in the original UI Stanley Museum of Art, such as Jackson Pollock’s “Mural.”

“We are in the final stages of planning our inaugural exhibition. For the first three years that we’re open, we’re really going to be concentrating on our own collection because before we have really missed it,” Lessing said.