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University of Iowa Stanley Art Museum Returns to New Home on Campus

University of Iowa Stanley art Museum Returns to a new home on campus

Fourteen years after the 2008 flood devastated the Midwest and swept through multiple campus buildings, the University of Iowa is set to open the final piece of the rebuild in September 2022, The University of Iowa Stanley Art Museum. This new state-of-the-art facility will house the university’s collection of over 15,000 objects including the world-famous painting, Mural” by Jackson Pollock.  Only through the quick actions of dedicated museum staff and volunteers, every single piece in the collection was saved during the flood. Since then, the collection has been housed at various locations and the community has anxiously awaited the day that all items could return to Iowa City.


The new and improved Stanley Art Museum consists of a 66,000 s.f., three-story structure featuring 16,500 s.f. of gallery space, a three-story lightwell, visible collection storage, an art lounge, a visual classroom, and an underground parking garage.  Other impactful improvements to the facility include:

Curtainwall Façade – The curtain wall façade was designed with an alternating pattern of brick texture and finish that transforms with the change of seasons and the amount of sunlight.

Lightwell – The three-story lightwell in the middle of the building is a unique feature that provides a sense of connection between the floors. Natural light is drawn into the space connecting visitors to the outdoors through low-iron glass that is clearer than typical glass. Clearer glass means that interior spaces are not visually affected by a tint from the windows.

Freight Elevator – The museum features a large, custom freight elevator with a 21’ x 10’ interior cab that was specially designed to be able to transport Jackson Pollock’s enormous work “Mural” (8′ 1 1/4″ x 19′ 10″). The elevator itself weighs 19,807 lbs and can carry up to 10,000 lbs.


A project of this magnitude and complexity requires extensive planning. After months of collaboration between Russell, the University of Iowa, and BNIM Architects, the construction of the new structure began in August 2019. Despite numerous challenges along the way, construction is in the final stages and museum staff will be able to move in starting in mid-January. The museum will now enter a quarantine phase for the next several months. This necessary period of “rest” allows the construction materials to off-gas and for the HVAC system to prepare the internal air to meet strict museum industry standards regarding aspects such as humidity, pollutant levels, and temperature before moving the collection into the new space. The museum is scheduled to open to the public in August 2022 as originally planned.

One challenge that almost every project encountered during this timeframe was the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as the project team was erecting the structural steel, the pandemic came rolling into Iowa. Conscious of the looming national material shortage, Russell proactively expeditated the procurement of materials to avoid project delays. Additionally, since the site is tightly situated in a high traffic area on campus, Russell executed a stringent 8-phase traffic control plan to ensure the safety of pedestrians, Russell field crew, and subcontractors. This project is a true demonstration of Russell’s ability to pivot and resolve issues to keep projects on schedule.

“It’s very exciting for Russell to be involved in building this new permanent home for the University’s art collection. This museum and its collection will really have a long-lasting impact on the community.” – Erin Marsh, Project Manager.

Building a space like The University of Iowa Stanley Art Museum is an art itself – the coordination of people and materials was particularly creative given the pandemic conditions and the unique setting. The result of this creativity will showcase both the resilience of Iowa City and the brilliance of the pieces within.

We look forward to celebrating the grand opening of the new Stanley Museum of Art on August 26, 2022!

Curtainwall Facade Gallery Slider 6 Lightwell Freight Elevator Collection Storage Gallery
Custom freight elevator


Follow the links below to learn more about the project: – Davenport-Based Russell close to completing construction of new University of Iowa art museum

The Daily Iowan – Stanley Museum of Art set to be completed on Dec. 23