Figge Art Museum Turns 10!
Davenport, Iowa (June 19, 2015) – Building a Masterpiece, Celebrating 90 Years. The Figge Art Museum will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its opening and the 90th anniversary of the opening of its predecessor, the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, on August 6, 2015. Anniversary events begin on Saturday, June 20 with the kickoff of free museum admission for all visitors. Thanks to the generous support of the Riverboat Development Authority everyone will have access to the museum free of charge until September 20, 2015.
During the three months of free admission, over 50 museum events are planned with the majority being free of charge. Events will include an opening reception and curator talk for American Moderns on Paper: Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Arton June 25; the Figge’s 10th Birthday Celebration on August 6, an all-day event filled with special activities, performances and art projects, a September 10 special evening with Figge Architect Sir David Chipperfield; and a number of artist talks, tours, opening receptions, curator talks, PechaKucha nights, the Figge’s in-house outreach series, art films and more. For detailed descriptions and a complete list of events visit: www.figgeartmuseum.org.
For the first day of free admission on Saturday, the museum will hostI Heart Figge Family Day sponsored by MidAmerican Energy, Quad-City Times and Riverboat Development Authority with planned activities from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. inspired by the American Moderns on Paper: Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art exhibition opening Saturday on the third and fourth floor galleries and the I Heart Figge exhibition currently on view in the Mary Waterman Gildehaus Community Gallery. Activities will include drawing, painting, creating storybooks, collage art and more.
Visitors and those passing by the museum Friday, June 19 – Sunday, June 21, will have the opportunity to view the Muscatine River Monster, an inflatable sculpture installation and interactive character, on the Bechtel Plaza in front of the museum. The monster will be up during business hours and all are invited to stop by and experience the sculpture first-hand.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Riverboat Development Authority to make world-class art available to everyone in the Quad Cities this summer, free of admission fees,” said Executive Director Tim Schiffer. “We hope to see many new faces, along with our regular visitors who come for our programs and special events.”
Exhibitions on view during the free admission period will include: American Moderns on Paper: Masterworks from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (through September 20), I Heart Figge (through September 13), Terry Rathje: Allinittogether (through September 1), The Model Museum (through September 20), Corn Zone (June 30–October 11) and A Gift for the Quad Cities: The Figge Art Museum 10th Anniversary Exhibition (July 5–October 4, 2015).
The museum is also partnering with Live Uncommon, a nonprofit supporting community involvement and fitness, who will present a special summer series of family-friendly events on the Bechtel Plaza at the Figge. The first event in the series is The Figge 5Kickoff at 1 p.m. Saturday followed by live music until 4 p.m. Other events in the series will include dance, yoga, Zumba, 5ks, school yard workouts and more! The series will culminate with the Figge Finale 5k on September 5. For a complete list of Summer Series Uncommon on the Figge Plaza visit www.liveuncommon.org.
Visit the Figge this summer and take advantage of free admission and the free anniversary events so you can see for yourself how the museum is Building a Masterpiece, Celebrating 90 Years and bringing art and people together.
About the Muscatine River Monster
A Story of Invention and Re-invention of America’s Heartland. The Muscatine River Monster is an inflatable sculpture installation and interactive character. The purpose is help people think about the stories their communities are living - and to amaze and delight anyone who experiences it. Through highlighting Muscatine’s incredible and ongoing story of innovation, the “Legend of the Kraken” shows how cities across the Midwest can be great places for creative and enterprising people to build their dreams. The River Monster character interacts with fans through its social media channels. The online voice of the River Monster is described as an “enthusiastic supporter of creative and innovative ideas.”
History of the Figge Art Museum
The museum first opened in October 1925 in the former Battery B Armory building on fifth Street in downtown Davenport, with a collection of 334 paintings donated by former mayor Charles August Ficke. In order to accept the gift, the city persuaded the State of Iowa to pass a law allowing it to open and maintain a municipal art gallery.
By the 1950s, the collection had grown through multiple gifts and purchases made possible by support groups such as the Friends of Art, and the armory building had begun to deteriorate. The City Park Commission approved the construction of a new museum campus on a 12-acre tract on West 12th Street for the art museum and the Davenport Public Museum, now the Putnam Museum. The new gallery opened in May 1963. The museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1983 and was later renamed the Davenport Museum of Art. As the collection and the museum’s programs and events continued to expand, the building was no longer adequate. The City of Davenport granted permission ot the museum leadership to select a site in downtown Davenport.
An eight-member selection committee was formed to plan the new facility and choose a project architect and after an international competition with 54 prominent firms responding with materials about their prior work and profiles of their practices, British architect Sir David Chipperfield was awarded the contract for the design. The museum ceased to be a City entity, and transferred to nonprofit status, with the City of Davenport retaining ownership of its collection.
The 114,000 square-foot building was funded through lead gifts from the V.O. Figge and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Charitable Foundation, the Vision Iowa grant program, the City of Davenport, Scott County Iowa and gifts from other foundations, families, individuals, businesses and organizations. The total construction cost was $46 million. The U.S. architect of record was Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck of Des Moines, and the general contractor was Russell Pepper Construction.