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University of Iowa Museum Takes A Step Forward

Iowa is again experiencing spring floods, which reminds us that five years have passed since the devastating 2008 deluge. Coincidentally, yesterday, the Iowa Board of Regents voted to give the University of Iowa permission to plan for a new museum to replace the one inundated in 2008.

UofIowaMuseumTo recap events: The museum’s collection, which includes Jackson Pollock’s Mural, was moved ahead of the 2008 floods and now resides at the Figge Art Museum in nearby Davenport. But when the university applied for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to rebuild in a new location, away from the floodplain, the request was denied. FEMA said that since the existing — and flooded — museum (at right) wasn’t more than 50 percent damaged, it did not qualify for federal funding for a new building — just renovations. But the university could not get insurance on the collection, valued at some $500 million, in the old location on the Iowa River.

Despite many appeals, which were exhausted last March, the University could not convince FEMA to pay up.

Now, according to the Associated Press,

…The university said it will study a range of potential sites for the museum near its campus in Iowa City and options for funding the building through donations and partnerships with the private sector. While the project is still years from completion, the approval for planning by the Iowa Board of Regents gives hope that the university’s art collection of 12,400 paintings, sculptures and other objects will one day return to campus…

…[University treasurer Douglas]  True said the university plans to pursue a “public-private partnership” for the new building, which could be used to display the collection and for other purposes. He said the university would soon send out “a request for information” to developers who may have ideas on where the building could be located and how it might be financed and operated….

…The university has not set a price tag for the building, and told the regents that the amount of university funding provided for construction and operation will depend “upon the nature of the financial ownership.” In the past, the school has said a new museum could cost $75 million.

The old museum, which now serves a few other functions including those of the music school, was again evacuated this week, threatened by flooding.

 Photo Credit: Courtesy of the AP


  1. I wonder if the University couldn’t both get FEMA funds and satisfy the insurers if it built on top of the old museum – just make sure the collection (and the critical building systems) are more than three floors up …

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