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History of the Brunnier Art Museum

About the Brunnier Art Museum

The Brunnier Art Museum as part of the Iowa State Center is one of Iowa State University’s leading creative and cultural centers. Conceived in 1954 as President James H. Hilton’s dream to culturally transform Iowa State University, the four-building Iowa State Center includes Stephens Auditorium, Hilton Coliseum, Fisher Theatre and the Scheman Continuing Education Building, the last of which included the Henry J. Brunnier Gallery, now called the Brunnier Art Museum.

The Brunnier Art Museum is a nationally accredited campus museum, an achievement attained by less than 5% of campus museums nation-wide. Opened in 1975, the permanent collection now numbers over 20,000 objects from over 900 donors benefitting students, faculty, staff and the community.

The 10,000 square foot museum presents eight to twelve exhibitions each year, showcasing items from both the permanent collection and on loan from other entities. The exhibitions provide educational opportunities for all ages, with a primary focus on Iowa State student learning. Annually 50+ lectures, receptions, conferences, university classes, panel discussions, gallery walks, artist talks and frequent tours are presented to support the educational mission of ISU.  


About Henry & Ann Brunnier

Henry J. Brunnier (1882-1971) graduated from Iowa State College in 1904 with a degree in engineering. Henry met Ann Weideman (1884-1970) when they were children in Manning, Iowa, later marrying in 1905.  Henry achieved national acclaim early in his career for his work rebuilding the city of San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake and ensuing fires decimated most of the city. 

Henry’s career allowed his family to travel the world. During these travels Ann developed a passion for collecting, beginning with dolls and then all forms of the decorative arts including glass, ceramics, jades, and Russian enamels. Her enthusiasm and knowledge allowed her to build an extremely diverse collection with objects from periods spanning ancient Egypt to the 20th century. 

In 1961, as the philanthropic campaign to construct the Iowa State Center continued, Henry and Ann chose Iowa State University to house and exhibit their exceptional art collection. The donation of their art and stocks to fund the construction led to the Scheman Building housing the first campus art museum, exhibiting the Brunnier’s expansive art collection. Their initial gift became the core of the Brunnier Art Collection and continues to be exhibited and interpreted today in the Brunnier Art Museum. Neither Henry nor Ann lived to see the opening in 1975, but the Brunnier Art Museum continues to celebrate their generous legacy and fulfill their mission to have art available to enhance the student educational experience at Iowa State University.


General Inquiries: Lynette Pohlman | 515.294.6966 |
Donations: Rachael Karriker | 515-294-0546 |
Press Inquiries: Betsy Grabinski | 515.294.3342 |

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