Skip to main content
ISU University Museums
Main Content

Artists of an Era: A New Deal, Iowa Artists, and Iowa State College

Christian Petersen Art Museum
Campbell Gallery
August 26–December 20, 2024

Artists of an Era delves into the rich heritage and historical significance of art from the 1930s and 1940s, providing a comprehensive exploration of Iowa State campus visual culture and art produced under the federal Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and Works Progress Administration (WPA), administered through the Treasury Department. During this transformative era, the U.S. government employed thousands of artists for public projects, creating a new model for the artist’s role in society and fostering unprecedented aesthetic innovation made possible by the program’s financial support.

Led by President Raymond Hughes, Iowa State took advantage of these programs that brought Grant Wood, Christian Petersen, and other artists to Iowa State to create murals across campus. Furthermore, this exhibition reexamines the contribution of women in the arts at Iowa State, offering valuable insights into their artistic practice and enduring legacy. Figures like Zenobia Brumbaugh Ness emerge as pivotal influences in the development of the Iowa State art patronage and arts curriculum. Through a multifaceted exploration, the exhibition seeks to illuminate not only the historical context but also the lasting imprint of these artistic endeavors.

Exhibition Programs

Find full descriptions of programs on the University Museums Calendar. All programs are free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged but not required. Click the event title for more information and to register. Events listed below will be at the Christian Petersen Art Museum, Campbell Gallery (1017 Morrill Hall, 603 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa) unless otherwise noted. Times are Central Standard Time (CST). Programs are subject to change. Check the University Museums Calendar and Facebook page for the latest events information.


Zenobia Ness: Life & Legacy

September 29, 2024, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM (US Central)

Location: Christian Petersen Art Museum, Morrill Hall

Join Pohlman Fellow Monet Butler, a Junior undergraduate majoring in Political Science, for a presentation on her research uncovering the life and legacy of Zenobia Brumbaugh Ness and the significant contributions of Ness to the fine arts at Iowa State College in the 1930s and 1940s. 

Read More

Curator’s Tour of "Artists of an Era: A New Deal, Iowa Artists, and Iowa State College"

October 17, 2024, 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM (US Central)

Location: Christian Petersen Art Museum, 1017 Morrill Hall, 6

Drawn primarily from University Museums’ permanent collection, the exhibition Artists of an Era: A New Deal, Iowa Artists, and Iowa State College examines the heritage and history these images carry with them. Meet Christian Petersen Art Museum's new curator Alison Ranniger, for a tour of works of art from the 1930s and 1940s that offer a view of the early visual culture found on campus and works of art created throughout the federal Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) administered through the Treasury Department.

Read More

Creativity in Challenging Times: Art for ISC in the New Deal Era

November 3, 2024, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM (US Central)

Location: Christian Petersen Art Museum, 1017 Morrill Hall

Flourishing in hard times requires creativity and Iowans rose to the challenge during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Drawing from the exhibition, Artists of an Era: A New Deal, Iowa Artists, and Iowa State College, this vividly illustrated lecture by Joni Kinsey, Ph.D., will explore how ISC administrators and faculty collaborated with federal programs to develop a lively arts scene that established Iowa as a national model.  

Read More

Visit the Christian Petersen Art Museum

Monday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Closed Saturday & Sunday and University holidays & breaks
Click here to see when the museums are closed.

Address: 1017 Morrill Hall, 603 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa
Admission: The cost is free; however, there is a suggested donation of $8.

This exhibition is curated and organized by University Museums. Support was given by Warren & Bev Madden, Jim & Marcia Borel, Renate Dellmann, Jim & Diane Patton, Kathy & John Howell Art Enrichment Program, and University Museums Membership. 

Shucking Corn, 1938
John Vincent Bloom
Pencil and colored pencil on brown paper
Purchased with funds provided from the Estate of Ann and George Wilhelm, the Gerald and Karen Kolschowsky Foundation, and Iowa State University’s Business and Finance Division.

© 2024 University Museums, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.