New ‘Lori A Jacobson Gallery’ dedication is Sept. 19
The Brunnier Art Museum has been a leading creative and cultural center in the Ames community for the past 44 years. Now, after a $1.95 million renovation and nearly 20-month closure, the museum is preparing to reopen its doors and begin a new chapter.
According to Lynette Pohlman, director of University Museums, the new space will be larger, more open and more welcoming than ever before, allowing the museum to better meet its goal to “bring education and understanding to the students of Iowa State and the citizens of Iowa.”
The renovations include an all-glass entrance to the museum from the Scheman Building’s second-floor lobby, expanded exhibition space, a new storage vault for the museum’s collections, reconfigured office space and a new heating-cooling system.
“In total, everything is getting remodeled and a face lift,” Pohlman said. “Some of it is cosmetic, some of it is fundamentally brand new.”
INSIDE THE RENOVATION
A highlight of the museum renovation project is the new entryway, composed of a 26-foot-long, floor to ceiling, glass wall.
Previously, the lobby had two hallways that led into the main gallery. Now, Pohlman said, people will be able to see the gallery from the lobby and “it will be a lot more welcoming.”
Another vital portion of the project is the new Lori A Jacobson Gallery, with an increase of 1,800 square feet of exhibition space.
Rae Reilly, a former Iowa State employee who has been involved with University Museums since the 1970s and is a docent for the Art on Campus Collection, said she is excited about the new opportunities the expanded exhibition space will offer.
“We will have the chance to offer more exhibitions, because we will have the space in which to show them. My hope is that (visitors to the museum) will be exposed to more artwork that we have in the museum, as well as objects that we receive on loan from other places,” she said.
However, both Reilly and Pohlman said their favorite part of the renovation is the one space no visitor will ever see: the permanent collections vault which houses more than 20,000 objects.
“What was really driving this project was the expansion of the permanent collection,” Pohlman said. “The collection has grown, so we needed to expand our permanent collection vault.”
The newly-designed vault, according to the University Museums website, was designed to add more linear square feet of space using compacting storage solutions. Reilly said it will allow staff to “use every cubic inch” of the vault, while also helping provide better care to the items.
“If a museum cannot properly safeguard, store and preserve its collection, it just can’t carry out its mission,” she said. “The renovation of the storage space helps do that.”
Each item in the collection will now have its own spot within the vault that is, according to Pohlman, “accessible, safe and secure.” It will also have improved climate control for sensitive items like paintings and works on paper.
“Previously, we didn’t have enough storage, so objects were constantly in motion, moving from one location to another,” Pohlman said. “I am thrilled about the new storage area, even though it is a space the public won’t be able to view.”
The offices for museum staff were also redesigned to maximize space for the nine professional staff and 12 student staff members who work within University Museums.
BEYOND THE GLASS GALA
To celebrate the transformation and share it with the Ames community, University Museums will host a reopening event on Sept. 19, the 44th anniversary of the Brunnier Art Museum.
The gala, hosted by the Beyond the Glass Committee, will begin at 7 p.m. in the second floor lobby of the Scheman Building, and is free and open to the public.
According to Pohlman, the event will offer an opportunity to see the new space, as well as three new exhibitions and a public art installation. There will be five “major” and “transformative” announcements, and a short program by ISU President Wendy Wintersteen.
The new Lori A Jacobson Gallery will also be dedicated during the event, in honor of an ISU alum who provided professional and personal contributions the university and University Museums over several decades.
Jacobson grew up in Roland and went on to complete two degrees, in history and advertising design, at ISU. She was one of Brunnier Art Museum’s first student employees in the late 1970s, and later went on to have a “stellar” museum career nationally, as an educator and curator.
Jacobson “always felt she got her start here,” Pohlman said.
In January 2018, Jacobson died after a battle with breast cancer. Her husband, Jason Kogan, contributed to the renovation in her name to continue her legacy at ISU.
“She learned the ropes from her work here, which really launched her into a great career,” Pohlman said. “She made quite an impact in the museum world … The gallery is named for her.”
Reilly said she looks forward to seeing visitor’s faces when they see the culmination of time, planning and hard work that went into the project during the gala.
“They should be just dazzled by the new space, and what’s in the space,” she said. “We have world-class art in our collection … When they see it, I hope they say ‘wow,” and just march right in.”
And, most of all, Pohlman said she hopes attendees leave the event ready to come back later on to see and learn even more.
“This is their museum. This is their living room. I hope they celebrate this night, but then I also hope they return again, and again, and again,” she said. “It really is the beginning of a new chapter.”
Beginning Sept. 20, the museum will be open seven days a week when ISU is in session. Hours on weekdays are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekends from 1 to 4 p.m.
The museum, as part of the Iowa State Center, is a nationally accredited campus museum. According to the University Museums website, that is an achievement attained by less than 5 percent of campus museums nation-wide.
It presents eight to 12 exhibitions each year, as a tool to provide educational opportunities to all within the ISU campus, the Ames community and the state of Iowa.
“The Brunnier Art Museum is an essential part of Iowa State University’s learning environment and educational programs,” Wintersteen said in an emailed statement to the Tribune. “It adds value, creativity, and dimension to our mission to make Iowa and the world a better place.
“This renovation project will make it possible to showcase more works of art in a welcoming and accessible space that the Iowa State community and visitors from all over will enjoy for years to come.”