After World Tour, Pollock’s “Mural” Comes Home to New Stanley Museum

Stanley Museum of Art staff in front of the newly installed Mural. (Photo by Elizabeth Wallace, © 2022 The University of Iowa, all rights reserved)

After nine years touring Europe and the United States, Jackson Pollock’s Mural is finally home in Iowa City, where it will be on view when the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art reopens August 26, 2022.

Director Lauren Lessing and museum staff welcomed Mural in its 3,200-pound crate July 14. After acclimating to its new environment, Mural rode in the custom freight elevator to the second floor of the museum and is now permanently displayed in the Chris and Suzy DeWolf Family Gallery.

Staff begin removing the Jackson Pollock masterpiece from its specially designed crate. (Photo by Kirk Murray, © 2022 The University of Iowa, all rights reserved)

The 8-by-20-foot painting traveled more than 20,000 miles to 14 venues on trucks, cargo planes, and boats, and was viewed by more than 2.7 million people after leaving Iowa City on a planned world tour immediately after the 2008 flood. Mural marks a pivotal moment in Pollock’s career and is a beacon for art lovers everywhere.

Photo by Kirk Murray, © 2022 The University of Iowa, all rights reserved

The museum’s inaugural exhibition, Homecoming, will include Mural as well as more than 600 works of art in all media by some 500 artists.

“We are bringing home all the wonderful works of art that people have missed so much—the rock stars of the Stanley Museum of Art,” Lessing said.

Photo by Kirk Murray,  © 2022 The University of Iowa, all rights reserved

The new Stanley Museum of Art building will be officially dedicated at 3 p.m. August 26, followed by its grand opening celebration August 26—28. Admission to the museum is always free and open to all. For updates, please visit Stanley Museum of Art.

Mural On the Road

In 2012, Mural underwent a two-year technical study and conservation treatment by research scientists at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, followed by solo exhibitions at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Sioux City Art Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Beginning in 2015, Mural was the centerpiece of an exhibition curated by David Anfam and organized by the UI Museum of Art, Jackson Pollock’s ‘Mural’: Energy Made Visible, which traveled to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy; Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, Berlin; and Museo Picasso Málaga, Málaga, Spain. After the close of that exhibition in 2016, Mural anchored further exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Art, London; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City.

About Mural

Mural is considered by many to be the most important modern American painting ever made. Peggy Guggenheim, the leading dealer of modern art in New York during the 1940s, was eager to support the new American brand of art she was beginning to champion in her gallery, The Art of This Century Gallery. She commissioned Pollock to create a mural for her new townhouse. Pollock was to choose the subject, and the artwork’s immense size (8’ 1 1/4” x 19’ 10”) was meant to cover an entire wall.

Mural, by Jackson Pollack (1943, gift of Peggy Guggenheim, reproduced with permission from the University of Iowa)

At the suggestion of Guggenheim’s friend and advisor Marcel Duchamp, it was painted on canvas, not the wall itself, so it would be portable. In 1947, Guggenheim closed The Art of This Century Gallery and returned to Europe. Recognizing the significance of the UI studio art program, Guggenheim wrote to Lester Longman, head of the UI School of Art and Art History, on Oct. 3, 1948, reminding him that she had offered to give Mural to the university if he would pay to have it shipped from Yale. He responded immediately that indeed he was most interested, and began negotiating with the administration for the cost of freight. Finally, in October 1951, the painting was shipped to Iowa.

Detail of Mural showing Jackson Pollock’s signature (photo by Elizabeth Wallace, © 2022 The University of Iowa, all rights reserved)

For more information, please visit the Stanley Museum of Art.