opening gala

"Beyond the Glass" reopening of the Brunnier Art Museum begins a new chapter for art and culture at Iowa State University.

Thursday evening’s “Beyond the Glass” Reopening Gala for the Brunnier Art Museum was a night of passionate observance for beauty, creativity, and history – dedicated to all of the contributors to the museum and the arts.

The reopening event was the result of almost a year in the planning process for University Museums and the “Beyond the Glass” Committee, as the room full of enthused guests rang in the 44th anniversary of the museum and celebrated the impressive new space with cocktails, art-inspired desserts and engaging conversation about the art collections to the tune of a soulful piano and a harmonious violin quartet.

Before the unveiling of the museum, the evening began with a short program in which included the dedication of the Lori A. Jacobson Gallery. Jacobson graduated from Iowa State University in the late 1970s with a B.S. in History and a B.A. in Advertising Design. 

Having never dreamed of a career in museum management, Jacobson ended up contributing to University Museums throughout the remainder of her life until she passed away in January of 2018. Her husband, Jason Kogan, contributed to the Brunnier renovation project as a way of honoring his wife’s lasting footprint on the University.

The captivating installation of three grand chandeliers located centrally on the second floor of the Scheman Building atrium provides a breathtaking greeting for museum goers before they even enter the gallery. 

Designed in Austria by Hans Harald Rath, these Mid-Century Modern style sister chandeliers to the ones illuminating the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center in New York City are comprised of aluminum, steel, brass and nearly one thousand Swarovski crystals and pearls. As one of the project donors, Barabara Clark, accurately stated the entryway clearly said, “Come in and see the rest!"

While the need for renovation may have stemmed from the need for sufficient storage, in this new chapter of the Brunnier Art Museum and the legacy of art culture at Iowa State, the hope is to not only provoke the question “Why is art important?” to all people but to foster an understanding of how it fits into the makeup of daily life and personal identity.

There is a popular misconception in modern culture that creating and observing artistic expression is irrelevant unless you identify yourself as an artist or work professionally in a creative field. In actuality, art transcends boundaries between professions and it touches lives from every angle -- impacting everything from which side of the street to walk on to what clothes are deemed trendy to the movie that makes it to number one in the box office. 

 “It gives joy and understanding, it precedes our lifetime and it exceeds our lifetime,” said Marcia Borel, project donor and long time contributor to University Museums. “It's not an unimportant part of the human experience. I think that art touches a chord with us that directly affects our mental health.”

Somewhere along the line in history, the appreciation and consumption of art became unnecessarily misunderstood and was deemed a pretentious pastime to be reserved as a luxury. The motivation for projects such as the Brunnier Art Museum renovation is to create a space that is an invitation to rediscover and redefine the role of art in people’s lives in an effort to bridge that distance between the art world and the rest of society.

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