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Small Pleasures: Tiny Art from the Permanent Collection

Brunnier Art Museum
January 17 – July 26, 2024

Scale and size have long been an important part of the creation of art and for the expression of an artist. While large scale sculpture, paintings, and decorative arts are impactful because of their grandeur, sometimes the tiniest art leaves a greater impression. The level of detail, the patience of the artist, and the close looking asked of the viewer combine to create a memorable experience that often outweighs encounters with much larger works of art.

Small, tiny, or miniature art has been made throughout time and all over the world. University Museums’ permanent collection includes a multitude of examples in a wide range of media of diminutive fine and decorative art. Small Pleasures asks the visitor to marvel in the miniscule – from a small Roman bronze of Hercules, to miniature Chinese ceramics, to the wonder of micro mosaic jewelry, to a beautiful painting of a cloud. Luxuriate in the slow and close looking of University Museums Small Pleasures.

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.


Curator's Tour of Small Pleasures
with Adrienne Gennett

Sunday, February 11, 2:00–3:00 p.m.

Join Brunnier Art Museum curator Adrienne Gennett to marvel in some of the smallest works of art found in the permanent collection.


A Return to the Grand Tour: Micromosaic Jewels from the Collection of Elizabeth Locke

Tuesday, February 20, 5:00–6:00 p.m.

Virtual on Zoom (link)

In conjunction with the exhibition Small Pleasures at the Brunnier Art Museum, spend an evening learning about the intricate world of micromosaic jewelry with Dr. Susan J. Rawles, the Elizabeth Locke Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Locke’s collection of micromosaics, held at the VMFA, provides a lens on the continuity of the ancient craft of mosaic into the modern era and the historical legacy of Locke’s collection within the context of the Grand Tour


The Power of Small Things
with Artist Tilly Woodward

Sunday, April 7, 2:00–3:00 p.m.

Learn from artist and educator Tilly Woodward about why she chooses to create small, intimate paintings and her methods for creating art on a diminutive scale.

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. Support was given by University Museums Membership.

Images from top:

Chipmunk and Dinner, 2000s
Dean Schwarz (American, b.1938)
Lane Schwarz (American)
Gift of Geraldine and Dean Schwarz. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. UM2018.174
Photo: Brielle Tuttle, Model: Rachael Kauffman

Five Quail Eggs, 2011
Tilly Woodward (American, b.1957)
Oil on archival mat board
Gift of Gary and Marlene Olson. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. UM2015.16

Vase, 1644 – 1911, Qing Dynasty
Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. 2.2.45
Photo: Brielle Tuttle

Cream Jug, c.1790
Wedgwood (English, founded 1759)
Gift of M. Burton Drexler. In the M. Burton Drexler Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. UM2013.596
Photo: Brielle Tuttle, Model: Rachael Kauffman

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