UI Art Museum’s new name celebrates both a recent gift and one of its most important collections

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Rendering of the new museum building. — image via the University of Iowa Museum of Art

It was announced this week that the University of Iowa Art Museum will be renamed the University of Iowa Stanley Art Museum. The decision follows a donation to the museum of $10 million from Dick and Mary Jo Stanley of Muscatine.

“The Stanley family has made an indelible mark on our university — and on the art world — and we are proud to name the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art in honor of their gift,” UI President Bruce Harreld said in a press release.

The Stanleys have long been generous supporters of the university, making donations to support not only the art museum but other important parts of the university, such as Hancher and the College of Engineering. Dick, who died at the age of 85 in November, received a master’s degree in sanitary engineering from the UI in 1963.

The press release described the Stanley’s gift as “transformational,” but it’s not the first time members of that family have transformed the museum. The core of the museum’s celebrated collection of African art was formed by a donation of more than 800 ritual masks, religious figurines and other pieces from Dick’s parents, C. Maxwell and Elizabeth Stanley, both of whom were UI alumni.

“To the surprise of many, we have one of the finest African art collections in the country,” Jim Leach, the museum’s interim director, told Little Village, during an August interview about plans for the museum’s new building. “This spring we learned the publisher of the standard textbook on African art has ceased publishing it, because people around the world are using the University of Iowa website for African art studies.”

The Art and Life in Africa website was launched in 2014. More than 500 objects from the Stanley Collection that are featured on the site.

Construction on the new museum building is scheduled to begin in 2018, and plans currently call for it to open to the public in 2020.

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