Jim Leach, the former 30-year Iowa congressman and chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will take on the role of interim director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) in January.
The current director Sean O’Harrow is leaving at the close of the year to take on a new position as director of the Honolulu Museum of Art. O’Harrow started at the UI Art Museum in 2010, and previously served as executive director of the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.
Leach is also the UI chair in public affairs and a visiting professor in both the university’s College of Law and the Department of Political Science.
“Jim is a passionate champion of arts and humanities education and of the UI Museum of Art,” P. Barry Butler, UI executive vice president and provost, said in a press release. “I am grateful for his willingness to serve the university in this capacity during an important time of transition for the UIMA.”
Among Leach’s duties as interim director will be overseeing the final legs of Jackson Pollock’s Mural‘s international tour and working on the planning and design of a new museum.
Earlier this year, the university pulled out of a public-private partnership that would have located the new art museum on the corner of Clinton and Burlington streets. Instead, officials have proposed an on-campus location near the main library.
Some of the museum’s 14,000-piece collection is on display in the Iowa Memorial Union, where the museum has been temporarily housed since the 2008 flooding. Additional pieces are on display in Davenport’s Figge Art Museum.
Leach will serve as the interim director until a new, permanent director is found.