What is your favorite work in the museum’s collection? With this exhibition, you may find a new one or, if you don’t have a favorite, this is your chance to discover one, or more. As we say good-bye to another decade of the 21st century, we are taking a much-needed moment to slow down and look at the museum’s collection. With a focus on 20th century American regional art, how has the collection remained relevant in the 21st century while staying true to its roots? And, as we look ahead, what direction will the collection take in the future?
Beginning in February, the Dubuque Museum of Art will feature an exhibition that examines the growth and accessibility of the collection over the last two decades. The Dubuque Museum of Art’s founding goes back to 1874 but it wasn’t until 1914 that the first work came into the collection. In 1999, when the museum moved to its current home on Locust Street, the collection consisted of 500 works. Since then, the collection has grown to over 2600 works.
Collecting and preserving the region’s cultural heritage is central to the museum’s mission and an important resource for our community. Visitors to the Dubuque Museum of Art may not realize that the museum is home to an ever-growing collection and that most of the museum’s collection was acquired through the generosity of numerous collectors and artists, namely among them Arthur Geisert, Dr. Randy Lengeling, Jack and Mantea Schmid, Bob and Barbara Woodward, and the Dubuque Cultural Preservation Committee.
Selected works from the collection can be seen on a regular basis in the museum, but due to limited gallery space and lack of an online presence, the bulk of the collection is not easily accessible to the public. However, in anticipation of a new era of public accessibility, the museum is devoting expanded gallery space to the collection for this exhibition and plans are currently underway to digitize the collection and make it available online. “What I’m most excited about with 2100 and Counting,” stated DuMA Curator and Registrar Stacy Gage Peterson, “is that it will offer an exciting and rare opportunity for our visitors to view more works from the collection at one time than ever before and many of the works are on view for the first time in the museum.” Included in this exhibition will be key acquisitions by local, regional, and international artists like Thomas Hart Benton, Salvador Dali, J.J. Kavanaugh, Mark Chamberlain, Elizabeth Eagle, Rose Frantzen, Arthur Geisert, Ernest Garthwaite, Criss Glasell, the Lasansky family, Stanislas Lepine, Francesco Licciardi, Jessica Teckemeyer, Ellen Wagener, Joseph Walter, Marcia Wegman, Grant Wood, and Zane York.