The Brunnier Art Museum, Christian Petersen Art Museum, Farm House Museum and the Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden are affiliates of University Museums at Iowa State University. About eight to twelve annual changing exhibitions and permanent collection exhibitions provide educational opportunities for all ages. Lectures, receptions, conferences, university classes, panel discussions, gallery walks, and artist talks are presented to assist with further interpretation of objects. A full listing of programs and events is available by clicking here. Listed below are the current exhibitions with dates and location.

Brunnier Art Museum

Ever Changing Land: The Art of Ellen Wagener
Now through July 31, 2015








The Iowa landscape has been a constant source of inspiration for the artist Ellen Wagener. Those unbroken vistas of rural fields and farmlands native to Iowa have been her muse throughout her career and she has won accolades for the accuracy of beauty and her depictions.

Landscape painting is a method that expresses my inner response to and reverent feelings for nature.” – Ellen Wagener 

Wagener’s landscapes display a great reverence for nature and a passion for the rural lifestyle that is quickly disappearing throughout many of the Midwestern states. She appreciates the life that is made by the land and the hard work that is needed to endure and has that same passion and work ethic in her own artistic production. Her scenes encompass all that is stunning about the Iowa landscape, from the subtle colorations of the field, to the immense sky with its ever changing cloud formations. While life has taken her beyond Iowa, she always returns home in her art.

About the Artist
A native Iowan, Ellen Wagener was born in Maquoketa and raised in DeWitt, Iowa. She attended Marycrest University as well as the University of Iowa. In 1989 she attended BFA, Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC for honors. Today Wagener is nationally recognized artist. Wagener’s work was first exhibited by the Brunnier Art Museum when she was just a teenager through a community exhibition with 4-H.

“The 30" x 40" pastel was a winter "interpretation" of a Currier and Ives card.  I won a big prize at the state fair and the show was the winners of the fair.  I saw my future in this show at the Brunnier Art Museum” – Ellen Wagener

Her first forays into the art were achieved through Iowa State University’s enduring support of the community and would set her on the path to becoming an outstanding artist. As the Brunnier Art Museum has grown into a significant art institution and Wagener has become a nationally recognized artist, the partnership has continued to grow. Wagener is a remarkable Iowa artist whose belief in the beauty of the land is translated onto her canvasses. Her art is familiar while also exceptionally beautiful and created with extreme skill.

The art in the exhibition is on loan courtesy of the artist and is curated and organized by University Museums as part of its 40th anniversary with support from the Department of Agronomy, Martha Allen, Wesley F. Buchele, the estate of Shirley Held, Al and Ann Jennings, Alan and Myrna Tubbs, Jan and Cornelia Flora, Ronald and Florine Swanson, Dr. Richard and Karen Ross, H. Dieter and Renate Dellmann, John and Kathy Howell, Olson-Larsen Galleries, and the University Museums membership.


Hot and Cool: Three Generations of Gaffers

hot cool


The studio art glass movement of the late 20th century stimulated a fresh interpretation of an ancient substance.  Fifty years and three generations later, the glass art movement has provided a stunning array of artistic creativity that transcends glass from utilitarian functions and mass production to a medium of expressive fine art.

The term studio glass refers to a singular, unique work of art created in a workshop in which usually one person, a gaffer, conceives of or directs assistants in the production of art.  Studio glass is the antithesis of industrial glass, which is mass produced according to rigidly controlled standards that maintains conformity.  The studio glass movement is one of the broader international craft movements that have flourished in the industrialized world since the 1960s. The premise of the craft movement, and more specifically the studio glass movement is clear, art is defined by its concept and content, and not its material.

Studio glass sculpture emerged in the early 1960s with the experimentation in hot glass by artistic pioneers Harvey K. Littleton (American, b. 1922) and Dominic Labino (American, 1910-1987). In 1962 gaffers Labino and Littleton led the groundbreaking Toledo Museum of Art glassblowing workshops. From there, Littleton went on to develop the prestigious glass program and curriculum at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Labino continued to influences the art of contemporary studio glass sculpture through experimentations with unique formulas, chemical mixtures and techniques.

In the 1970s, Dale Chihuly began to popularize the studio glass sculpture movement. After studying at U of W – Madison with Littleton, Chihuly established his own glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1971, he co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School in the Seattle, WA area. The Pilchuck Glass School and apprenticeship program opened the doors for such third generation glass artists as Paul Marioni, William Morris, Toots Zynsky, Sonja Blomdahl, Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora Mace to succeed in the world of 20th and 21st century contemporary studio glass sculpture. Examples of Chihuly’s early glass sculptures and those of his students, Sonja Blomdahl, Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora Mace, can be seen in the exhibition.

Today, the studio glass movement focuses on expanding the potential of the glass medium, creating new techniques and finishes, and experimenting with shape and texture. As the next generation of studio art glass sculptors position themselves in history, it is important to reflect on their predecessors who ultimately laid the groundwork for artistic experimentation in glass form and technique.

Beauty Through Experiment:
The Ceramics of Wedgwood
August 26, 2014 –July 31, 2015

Today the name Wedgwood is synonymous with the delicate blue and white jasperware ceramic body, which can be found in a multitude of forms and styles, and has become exceptionally popular throughout the world.  The objects that many associate with the English ceramics manufacturer today though are only one small part of the story of a company that has been in existence for over 250 years. 

Josiah Wedgwood was born into a family of potters in Staffordshire, England, an area well known for ceramic production, but he would revolutionize the industry.  He was not simply a potter, but an innovator, scientist, humanitarian, and astute businessman.  He performed thousands of experiments over his lifetime that produced a large range of both everyday functional wares, but also an outstanding line of purely ornamental wares.  Josiah first perfected the body and glaze of creamware, which had long been produced in Staffordshire, but his was of such fine quality to be able to compete with porcelain and attract the attention of both the aristocracy and royalty.  He also developed several types of attractive “dry bodies” such as basalt, caneware, and rosso antico or redware that would suit the tastes of the times, but it was his complete invention of jasperware which transformed the English pottery industry.  Josiah Wedgwood created the jasperware body to perfectly fit with the predominant neoclassical tastes found in the second half of the 19th century and to cultivate the patronage of the wealthy aristocratic consumers, whom he knew would dictate the tastes of the time and all other consumers would follow their lead.  His creation was so successful that it continues to be produced today and is what much of the world envisions as the ideal of English ceramics.

The exhibition Beauty Through Experiment: The Ceramics of Wedgwood aims to understand these various facets of this exceptional man, by focusing on the bodies he produced, the innovations he used, and the style of decoration he preferred.  As many of the objects are from after Josiah’s lifetime, he died in 1795, the exhibition will also examine how many later generations of his family continued to use his example of innovation to keep the business afloat, through both the good and bad periods.  Finally, by exploring several thematic installations of the pottery, the exhibition will shed light on different aspects of decoration, style, technology, and business that began with Josiah Wedgwood and continued through the ensuing generations.  This exhibition will put on display the understanding that the decorative arts cannot exist without science and how science can create wonderfully beautiful objects to delight all.

It is through the recent generous donation of objects from M. Burton Drexler, along with many objects donated by Ann and Henry Brunnier, which is allowing University Museums to create this ambitious exhibition of Wedgwood objects. 

Asian Export:The Furniture of Carrie Chapman Catt and Selections from the Decorative Arts Collection
August 26, 2014 - July 31, 2015

The monumental furniture of Carrie Chapman Catt exhibits the legacy of an important Iowa State University faculty member.  The elaborately carved Japanese furniture was most likely made for the Chinese market, which was one facet of the huge Asian export market that developed from the 18th century and grew even larger with the opening of Japan in 1853-1854.  The furniture will be exhibited along with other selections of decorative arts from the permanent collection, both export wares and traditional Asian arts.

Sophisticated Simplicity of the Victorian Era:
Selections from the Iowa Quester Glass Collection
August 26, 2014 –July 31, 2015

This exhibition explores the Victorian Era pressed glass pattern Pleat and Panel. “Pleat and Panel is an attractive pattern reminiscent of older stippled designs. This pattern (originally known as Derby) was introduced about 1882 by Bryce Brothers of Pittsburgh, Penn. When Bryce joined the U.S. Glass Company in 1891, it continued making the pattern.”

“This pattern was originally produced in an extended table service from a good-quality clear non-flint glass. Although you may find odd pieces in amethyst, amber, blue, green, milk white, and vaseline, any color is rare. The design consists of heavily stippled panels separated by clear fluted bars. Forms are square and handles are pressed.” Source: Jenks, Bill; Jerry Luna and Darryl Reilly. Identifying Pattern Glass Reproductions. Radnor, PA: Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 1993.


Christian Petersen Art Museum

Coherence: An Immersive Laser Installation by Dan Corson
Now through May 30, 2015

1017 Morrill Hall, central campus  

Extended hours for Coherence: An Immersive Laser Installation by Dan Corson located at the Christian Petersen Art Museum in 1017 Morrill Hall
Sunday, April 26 from 1 to 4pm
Saturday, May 9 from 10 to 2pm (Graduation Open House)
May 11 through May 15, 11 to 4pm
Wednesday, May 27 from 6 to 8pm

The term “laser” originated as an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” A laser differs from other sources of light because it emits light coherently. Spatial coherence allows a laser to be focused to a tight spot, enabling laser cutting. Spatial coherence also allows a laser beam to stay narrow over long distances, enabling applications such as laser pointers.

COHERENCE, the main room installation, utilizes the special inherent quality of spatial coherence to create the illusion of infinite spaces and provides the magic that will illuminate one filament and not the one next to it. Exploiting this special and unique nature of lasers elevates this environment to more than just a science experiment by creating the appearance of internal illumination where there is none, motion where there is none and with the addition of a mirrored floor, produces a subtle perceptive disorientation while defining and marking space in infinite and mesmerizing ways.

“I see these pieces as exploring the very act of seeing- as it relates to how light enters our eyes and produces the experiences we perceive and feel. The kinetic manipulation of laser beams through the vibrationally calibrated scanners and pea-sized mirrors, creates a perception of movement and allows for the project to change and evolve marking both time and space. Aesthetically, there is a formal quality to the work that through a minimalist vocabulary allows the viewer/participants to personally engage the work through their subjective sensorial experiences and corporeal movement through the gallery.” - Dan Corson

This exhibition is organized by University Museums as part of its 40th anniversary, and the Iowa West Foundation with support from the Neva M. Petersen Endowment for the Christian Petersen Art Museum, the estate of Shirley Held, Kathy and John Howell, Peter and Rae Reilly, the College of Engineering, Country Plastics, The ARK Pet Shop, the College of Design, and the University Museums Membership.

The People’s college: the Morrill Act and Iowa State
Located in Morrill Hall, Iowa State History Gallery



The comprehensive historic time-line will be installed on the walls of the ground floor hallway that leads through Morrill Hall.  The purpose of this installation is to provide an exciting and informative reference point to the history of Iowa State, featuring the institution's prominent role as the first land grant college to fully accept the provisions of the "Morrill Act" of 1862.

The time-line will be divided into various time periods focusing on the important and interesting events that played a part in the creation and development of the University from inception to modern day.  Each section will focus on a wide variety of events and the people that were innovators over the last 150 years in developing Iowa's only Land Grant College into the world class University it has become. 

Morrill Hall's central location and historic significance has made it a compelling and logical choice for the time-line installation.  Since reopening after its dramatic restoration in 2007, the University's second oldest structure has played host to an average of over 10,000 visitors annually and has become a starting point for many guided and self-guided tours.  Guided visitors are often told of Morrill Hall's history as chapel, library and museum, but many self-guided visitors come and go without the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the history of the building and University.  The goal of this current project is to both enhance the experience of the visitors to Iowa State's campus and to better educate those visitors of the unique and illustrious role the college and community has played in advancing education and fulfilling the dreams of Senator Justin Smith Morrill and President Abraham Lincoln as enshrined in the Morrill Act.

This exhibition is organized by the University Museums from the permanent collection, and funded by Ann and Al Jennings, Carole and Jack Horowitz, Mary Watkins, Dorothy Schweider, Iowa State Foundation and the Ames Community Grant Foundation – Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Commissioning a Collection: 75 Years of Public Art
Located in the Neva M. Petersen, Visual literacy and Learning Gallery, Morrill Hall           

Beauty and order inspire learning and good citizenship, according to Adonijah S. Welch, Iowa State’s first president (1868-1883).  He then began planning and planting the landscape of campus that today is internationally known for its beauty. In the 1930s, President Raymond M. Hughes (1927-1936) expanded this fundamental institutional value of the aesthetic campus and began collecting public art for educational and inspirational purposes for Iowa State students, and 75 years later ISU has the nation’s largest campus public art collection, the Art on Campus Collection with over 600 major public works of art located across campus.

Most of the Art on Campus Collection is site specific with each painting and sculpture uniquely conceived and created to reflect an academic value held precious to the departments and colleges of Iowa State. From Christian Petersen’s jersey cows sculpted in terra cotta in 1934 to Norie Sato’s chemically inspired elements glowing in LED light, each public artist began their creative process by conceiving and representing their subjects via models, drawings and maquettes which were shared with campus constituents prior to being created to full-scale.  This exhibition allows the viewer to experience the thrill of commissioning a new campus public work of art, and also challenges us to image these now iconic works of art before they became an integrated aesthetic object at Iowa State.  After viewing this exhibition viewers are invited to visit the final public works of art and further explore how the art evolved through the commissioning process.

Just as Presidents Welch and Hughes envisioned and President Gregory Geoffroy (2001-2012) supported by renovating Morrill Hall and founding the Christian Petersen Art Museum as a center for Art on Campus educational programs and collections, the Art on Campus Collection is a strategic educational for Iowa State students.  This collection is continually integrated in curriculum across campus and forms a core for the Visual Literacy and Learning Program. Through the practice of visual literacy-reading and understanding objects- all students improve critical thinking and communication skills.

This exhibition is organized by the University Museums from the Art on Campus Model and Maquette Collection.

Farm House Museum

See the newly installed furnishings of this historic home on central campus.  


Anderson Sculpture Garden

Gwynn Murrill’s Sculptures: A Walk on the Wild Side
August 20, 2014 - July 24, 2016 

Take a walk on the wild side at the Anderson Sculpture Garden!

For the next two years, seven large-scale bronzes created by Los Angeles-based sculptor Gwynn Murrill will be integrated temporarily into the landscape of the Anderson Sculpture Garden. From seemingly passive panthers poised to pounce and a ram overlooking the student passer-bys, to the crouching cougar and grazing deer, all the sculptures are inviting yet perhaps somewhat menacing in the central campus landscape.  Murrill is interested in creating forms that are both abstract and figurative. “It is a challenge to try and take the form that nature makes so well and to derive my own interpretation of it,” Murrill said. Gwynn Murrill entered the Art on Campus Collection in 2011 with three bronze sculptures Circle Cat, Midnight and Varna, and Running Saluki permanently sited at the College of Veterinary Medicine Small Animal Hospital entrance. 

Iowa State University is outstanding among American academic campuses for its abundance of public works of art. With the largest campus public art collection in the nation, Iowa State’s Art on Campus Program and Collection runs the gamut of artists, media, and styles. From realism to abstraction, murals to sculpture, and terrazzo to glass, the collection is vast and varied with a depth that has grown since the first public work of art was commissioned in 1933.  The Anderson Sculpture Garden provides the opportunity to present nationally acclaimed public artists that are represented in the permanent Art on Campus Collection in a larger visual and intellectual context to more fully explore their artistic themes at ISU audiences. 

This exhibition is organized by the University Museums with the gracious loan of works of art from the artist.  The exhibition is sponsored by Diane and Jim Patton, Arthur Klein, an Iowa Tourism Grant and University Museums Membership.

Learn more about the artist, Gwynn Murrill, at murrillsculpture.com.

Food Sciences Building Courtyard

Chuck Ginnever: Rashomon
Nov. 24, 2015 through July 1, 2015

University Museums is pleased to announce the opening of a new, temporary outdoor sculpture exhibition titled Chuck Ginnever: Rashomon featuring 15 identical steel sculptures which can be placed in 15 different positions. The installation is on loan from the artist in association with Gayle Maxon-Edgerton, GME LLC, Santa Fe, NM and will be on view in the courtyard of the Food Sciences Building on Iowa State’s central campus. The exhibition is available for viewing on weekdays from 8 am - 5 pm. The contemporary sculpture exhibition is juxtaposed with Christian Petersen’s bas relief mural titled The History of Dairying which is permanently installed in the courtyard. The History of Dairying was one of the first sculpture projects funded by the New Deal Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) in 1934 and the realistic narrative sculpture is a thought-provoking contrast to Chuck Ginnever’s contemporary abstract sculpture.

For more than 50 years, Chuck Ginnever (American, b.1931) has created large-scale sculptures in bronze and steel that challenge and expand visual perception. The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the seminal Japanese film Rashomon, in which one story is told from multiple perspectives. Each sculpture in the exhibition is identical but can be placed in 15 different positions.

Starting in the spring of 2015, Statistics students are helping us curate the fifteen sculptures that make up Chuck Ginnever’s Rashomon series. Each of the fifteen sculptures can be placed in fifteen different positions and statistics students are rotating the sculptures each week to experiment with the various permutations possible within the series. Each week we’re photographing the rotation from the same vantage point, at the exact same time of day (noon on Thursday). By the end of the exhibition’s run in July, we’ll piece together the various photographs and footage to show the various rubik’s-cube-like rotations.

Chuck Ginnever: Rashomon is a collaboration of the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, NM and Chuck Ginnever in association with Gayle Maxon-Edgerton, GME LLC. The exhibition originated at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (SJICA) San Jose, CA, with an outdoor installation at the Montalvo Arts Center, Los Gatos, CA, and is part of the SJICA On the Road Traveling Exhibition Program. The installation is presented at Iowa State with the support from the Estate of Shirley Held and is part of the University Museums 40th Anniversary celebrations in 2015.

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