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Rookwood: America's Contribution to the Fine Arts

Brunnier Art Museum
Ann Brunnier Decorative Arts Gallery
January 17 – December 20, 2024

CLOSURE: The Brunnier Art Museum is closed due to Scheman Building construction work and will re-open to the public on August 27, 2024. The University Museums offices remain open regular business hours

American Art Pottery encompasses a period of innovative development in materials, decoration, and technique in American ceramic production around the turn of the 20th century. The range of makers each worked to advance glazing through science and plenty of experiment. The artists employed at the various art potteries used their finely honed skills in painting and decoration to elevate wares to a fine art. One of the most innovative and well-known at the time and still today was Rookwood Pottery. Founded in Cincinnati in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols, Rookwood quickly demanded attention for the fine craftsmanship of their wares and the many innovative techniques employed. Today, American Art Pottery fits within the larger context of the American Arts and Crafts movement and into the Modern art era, with Rookwood maintaining its prominence. Ceramic masterpieces made over 100 years ago continue to inspire art historians, artists, and collectors to better understand the value and importance of American Art Pottery.

Marie and Mark Latta have been collecting American Art Pottery for years. Their expansive collection includes rare and experimental examples of the iconic shapes and glazes made at many potteries, but especially at Rookwood. Their knowledge of the craft of ceramics and this period of intense production is vast, only eclipsed by their great generosity in sharing their collection and knowledge with others. As University Museum donors, they have given important examples of Iowa State College Pottery to the permanent collection and supported the continued need to increase storage to house and protect the Museums collections. Together they have selected nearly 100 examples from their collection of different glazes and decorative techniques made at Rookwood to examine the creativity, skill, and innovation found in the American ceramic industry.



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/or to register. Events listed below will be at the Brunnier Art Museum (1805 Center Dr., 295 Scheman Building, Ames, Iowa) unless otherwise noted. Programs are subject to change. Check the University Museums Calendar and Facebook page for the latest events information.


Collector’s Tour of Rookwood: America’s Contribution to the Fine Arts

Sunday, March 3, 2:00–3:00 p.m.

Collectors and University Museums donors Mark and Marie Latta will lead a tour of a portion of their American Art Pottery collection on exhibit in the Ann Brunnier Decorative Arts Gallery. Learn about talented artisans and innovative glazes developed in the late 19th and 20th century at Rookwood Pottery, which continue to be revered and collected by museums today.


Exploring Iowa State College Pottery's Place in History

Wednesday, May 15, 5:00–6:00 p.m.

Iowa State College pottery is Iowa’s own entry into the American Art Pottery tradition. Only made for a few years, the objects are rare and tell the story of how American Art Pottery was spread westward by skilled ceramicists. Join Lynette Pohlman, Adrienne Gennett, and Allison Sheridan to learn more about the Museums extensive collection of Iowa State College pottery.


1991 and 1992: The Glorious Gamble and the Glover Collection

Sunday, June 2, 2:00–3:00 p.m.

Two somewhat related events occurred in 1991 and 1992 that had an immediate impact on the collecting of Rookwood Pottery. The Glover Collection auction by Cincinnati Art Galleries consisting of over 1600 pieces of Rookwood Pottery in June 1991, and the opening of the Glorious Gamble exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1992 featuring 100 examples of some of Rookwood’s finest work. Riley Humler, who participated in both, will explain the history leading up to those events and what ensued within the market afterwards.

Riley Humler has been a dealer and collector of American and European Art Pottery for more than 40 years. He was Gallery Director of Cincinnati Art Galleries, LLC and coordinated the Art Pottery and Art Glass Auctions there and at Humler & Nolan for 30 years He is now Director of Ceramics at Toomey & Company Auctioneers in Chicago. He has also been an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow for 21 years and lectures on a regular basis about his life-long relationship with American Art Pottery, particularly Rookwood.

Visit the Brunnier Art Museum

Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday, 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Closed to the public Mondays. ISU curriculum tours may be scheduled on these days with a 2-week notice.

Closed University Holidays
Click here to see when the museums are closed.

Address: Scheman Building (2nd Floor), 1805 Center Drive, Ames, Iowa
Admission: The cost is free; however, there is a suggested donation of $8.

This exhibition is curated and organized by University Museums with Marie and Mark Latta. Support was given by Eric and Barbara Zarnikow and University Museums Membership.

Images from top:

Vase with Trees and Mountains, 1916
Rookwood Pottery (American, Cincinnati, OH 1880 – 1967)
Decorated by Edward T. Hurley (American, 1869 – 1950)
Earthenware, vellum glaze
On loan from Mark and Marie Latta

Parrot, 1956
Rookwood Pottery (American, Cincinnati, OH 1880 – 1967)
On loan from Mark and Marie Latta

Advertising Tile, 1903 - 1913
Rookwood Pottery (American, Cincinnati, OH 1880 – 1967)
Decorated by Sallie Alice Toohey (American, 1872 – 1941)
On loan from Mark and Marie Latta

Test Vase, 1915
Rookwood Pottery (American, Cincinnati, OH 1880 – 1967)
On loan from Mark and Marie Latta

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