University Art Museums and the Domino Effect


Last week we told you about Bernie Madoff indirectly sinking Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum. Now Modern Art Notes is pointing us to story about a similar (albeit less all encompassing) situation going down at the University of Iowa Art Museum, regarding the forced sale of a Jackson Pollock painting that’s worth $140m.

According to a post on Civic Skinny, “Legislative leaders are quietly talking about ordering the sale of the painting, which would outrage the university and art aficionados — but not many other people in the state. The subject has been raised in the House Democratic caucus, and while Iowa City legislators vehemently oppose it, others seemed to like the idea, say two guys who talked to folks who were there.”

It seems lawmakers are targetting the school to make cuts as they try to prevent additional budget slashes for health care and for grade schools and high schools.

But here’s the kicker: “… most of the University of Iowa art collection…sits protected and unviewed in a Chicago warehouse, where it was moved as flood waters approached the school’s museum this summer. Plans are afoot to move parts of it, including the Pollock, to the Figge museum in Davenport while university officials decide what to do with their damaged museum. Later, the temporary display will move to Des Moines.”

It will be interesting to see who caves first — the Rose or Iowa — and which university enters this unfortunate arena next. The Yale University Art Gallery (we’ve heard they’ve got a nice Calder)? Berkeley Art Museum? The Fogg?