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STAFF PROFILE: Sue Olson, Development Secretary

Posted on June 23, 2020 at 4:00 PM by Quinn Vandenberg

Development Secretary Sue Olson has been with University Museums for 23 years, but her time with Iowa State reaches further into her past and her family's legacy at the university will extend towards the future.

Olson is an Iowa State alum with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She recalls her favorite sculpture during her time as a student on campus, Marriage Ring by Christian Petersen. 

"I spent many hours at MacKay Hall studying near the fountain," says Sue. Today, the sculpture resides inside the building, but a casting is in the same location outside MacKay. Sue's daughter, Anna, also attends Iowa State University. She studies journalism and can still see the sculpture outside MacKay, just like her mother.

As the collections of University Museums has grown, Sue's taste in artwork has evolved and incorporated new favorites. She remembers the acquisition of Christian Petersen's Panthers, and their journey to Iowa State, and, like so many students and faculty, is drawn to Nocturne 5 by Karen LaMonte and its pairing with Zoopsia by Susan Chrysler White in Morrill Hall. However, Sue's absolute favorite Museums acquisition are the Met Chandeliers. They are installed just outside her office, and, on a normal workday, are a sight to behold on her way into work.

Throughout her career at University Museums, Sue has developed a thorough catalogue of department highlights and milestones from significant exhibitions to new acquisitions. During Sue's time as a student, University Museums consisted of the Brunnier Art Museum and Farm House Museum. She has seen it expand to include the Christian Petersen Art Museum and the Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden over the past two decades.

"There have been so many exhibitions over the years, it is difficult to pick just one that is a favorite. The University Museums 25th Anniversary exhibition which featured the acquisition of Megaplanet by Josh Simpson was quite memorable, as not only was Simpson a speaker at the reception, but his former college roommate, then Iowa Governor Thomas Vilsack was as well. Artist Marc Sijan's exhibition of life-size, realistic sculptures was also very memorable as audience reaction was priceless to watch. The recent Brunnier Art Museum reopening exhibition, The Art of Jennifer Steinkamp, will always be memorable to me as it was the perfect introduction to the new Lori A. Jacobson Gallery," says Sue.

Sue continues to live in her hometown of Boone, Iowa with her husband, Donovan, and daughter, Anna. Sue's eldest son, Ryan recently graduated University of Iowa with a degree in business and will be moving to Kansas City to begin work for a medical software company. Sue and Donovan have spent their time renovating a historic home and had begun adapting to life as empty-nesters when COVID-19 led to the early return of Anna from school. Sue now enjoys the extra time eating meals with her family and enjoying movie and game nights.

IMAGE: Met Chandeliers, designed 1963-1966, made 2019. Designer: Hans Harald Rath, Manufacturer: Lobmeyr Werkstätten. Commissioned by the University Museums. Acquisition made possible by the Joyce Tomlinson Brewer Fund for Art Acquisition. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U2019.150-152

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