The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Stanley Museum of Art continues to reintroduce its mission for one-year anniversary

The museum marked over 60,000 visitors after opening a year ago.
Gabby Drees
People line up to enter the Stanley Museum of Art at its opening celebration at the University of Iowa on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022.

Since the Stanley Museum of Art’s opening a year ago, thousands of visitors have viewed the museum’s original collection from the University of Iowa Museum of Art that was destroyed in the 2008 flood in its new space.

Stanley Director Lauren Lessing said the building was designed with the collection of art in mind. The layout of the Stanley Museum of Art makes each piece stand out and places each work where it can be fully appreciated.

Before the museum opened its doors in September last year, Lessing was asked to estimate how many people would attend in the first year. She said she expected about 42,000. By the end of July, 60,000 people visited the museum, Lessing said.

“I have never felt so much a part of a community as I have here in Iowa City and in the state of Iowa,” Lessing said.

The Stanley’s involvement in the community does not end at hosting visitors, however. According to Lessing, the museum has collaborated with 200 UI courses and hosted many different events during its first year.

“Students are the heart of everything we do. We want to teach in multiple ways,” Lessing said. “This is a museum that exists to serve students.”

More on the Stanley Art Mueseum’s Birthday Celebration and this year’s accomplishments:

The museum also gives tours to K-12 students from the area.

“A lot of elementary school kids come in for tours with their classes,” Jack Sorenson, a UI fourth-year student and gallery host at the Stanley, said.

“Seeing them come back with their parents is always really cool. Also, over the course of this first year, figuring out how we can best serve the public, and kind of working through that has been really cool to me,” Sorenson said.

Lessing said one of her favorite moments of the past year was the opening weekend of the Stanley when 6,000 visitors came to experience the art in the new space.

“People were making art, they were listening to music, dancing, spreading blankets on the lawn and having picnics, gathering with their family and friends. I felt like, ‘Wow, we’re really back,’” Lessing said. “This is exactly what we built this museum to do.”

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Since its opening, the Stanley has hosted many different events to increase student involvement. Artists performed an immersive opera at the Stanley in April. The event provided an opportunity for people to get involved in the gallery and see the art in different ways.

Additionally, the Stanley has hosted artist lectures and concerts and partnered with UI Student Wellness for an event called Mindfulness in the Museum and the LGBTQ Iowa Archives and Library.

“It’s been cool to see [the Stanley] used as a community space and not just a museum,” UI third-year student Josie Duccini said.

“Before working here, I didn’t really consider what an art museum could be used for outside of just a gallery space, but we’ve had lots of events here, different groups, like student orgs and community groups,” Duccini said.

Students and community members can celebrate the Stanley’s one-year anniversary on Friday at Gibson Square Park with games, food, and music. There will be guided gallery tours in the museum as well as student-focused events and activities in Gibson Square Park. The event will also feature music, games, and snacks.

As the Stanley approaches its first birthday, Lessing said she has very ambitious goals for the future. She wants the Stanley to become one of the leading university museums in the world, which she feels it is well on its way to becoming.

Lessing said she aims to increase the museum’s endowment from $5 million to $15 million but did not specify by how much. Lessing also hopes to lead the field of museum studies and education with experimental practices, as the university has done in other fields.

“I want to see what we can do with this collection,” Lessing said.

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About the Contributors
Zhenya Loughney
Zhenya Loughney, Arts Reporter
Zhenya is a fourth year theatre design and journalism double major at UI. They are passionate about artistry and creativity. They are from Lebanon, KY.
Emma Gaughan
Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter
Emma Gaughan is a second-year student at the University of Iowa, studying psychology and criminology, as well as completing a writing certificate. She is from West Des Moines, where she developed her love of both writing and the arts.
Gabby Drees, Photojournalist/Videographer
Email: [email protected] Gabby Drees is a photo editor and film maker at The Daily Iowan. She is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and political science.