A Public Legacy for Iowans

ART IN STATE BUILDINGS

9,000 

UIHC Employees & Volunteers

1,000,000 

UIHC Visitors

Numerous artworks may be found in state office 
buildings surrounding the State Capitol as well 
as in transportation, recreational, and research 
facilities across Iowa that serve the public. 

Building a Legacy

Iowa was among the first states in the nation to adopt a percent for art law.  In 1974, 
after persuading their colleagues of the importance of the fine arts to Iowa, Repub-
lican Senator John Murray of Ames and Republican Representative Philip Hill of Des 
Moines amended bills for two new state office buildings to include the purchase of 
art. Five years later, in 1979, the Iowa Legislature enacted and Governor Robert D. 
Ray signed into law the Art in State Buildings program, ensuring that fine art would 
be integrated into all future state building projects. Today, 25 states and the District 
of Columbia have a similar law, and more than 300 public art programs exist at the 
local level across the U.S.

•   Funding for Art in State Buildings is generated from ½ of 1% (0.5%) of the 

state’s portion of total construction costs for new and renovated state buildings, 
an efficient and cost-effective method of enhancing our built environment.  

•   The program provides artists, students, educators and the citizens of Iowa with 

opportunities to participate in and experience public art by serving on selection 
committees.

THE ART IN STATE BUILDINGS PROGRAM

Art in Public Places

Public art promotes an environment of healing and comfort 
for patients, visitors and staff at the University of Iowa 
Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) and Iowa Veterans Home (IVH) 
in Marshalltown.

At UIHC, works of art purchased with a combination of private 
and public funds are placed throughout public corridors, 
reception areas and family lounges. Approximately 70% of 
artworks in the UIHC collection are by Iowa artists. At IVH, 
staff and residents collaborated with Iowa artists to create 
new artworks for the expanded facilities.

Art of Healing

impacted annually

Hand and Land: Fingerprint by Iowa artist David

Dahlquist, 2005. Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Iowa Art in State Buildings program.

The Visual Literacy and Learning Program at University Museums, Iowa 
State University, helps incorporate art into classes across colleges and 
majors. Through special curated tours and exhibits, faculty use public art 
to broaden their students’ understanding in a particular field of study, 
from mechanical engineering and agronomy to fashion studies. Annually, 
between thirty and forty college departments utilize the collection.

A similar trend is reflected at the University of Iowa, where course-based 
research projects on the campus public art collection have occurred for 
the past twenty years. 

The University of Northern Iowa’s Art in Architecture collection includes a 
broad representation of works by Iowa artists, supported in part by the 
Art in State Buildings program.

Art in State Buildings is, foremost, an educational asset 

for Iowans. 

 The program aids Iowa’s public universities in fulfilling 

their educational mission and service to students, faculty and citizens, as 
evidenced by:

EDUCATIONAL IMPACT

Everyday Learning

Eighty percent of what 

sighted people learn 

is through visual inter-

pretation.

—   Lynette Pohlman, Director and Chief Curator, 

University Museums, Iowa State University

Established nearly a century ago, Iowa State University’s Art on Campus 
collection - the largest program of its kind in the U.S. - has flourished since the 
adoption of Art in State Buildings.  Today the Ames campus features hundreds 
of highly visible public works of art, inspiring generations of students and 
visitors to Iowa’s largest public university. 

At the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, public works of art grace locales 
throughout campus, including in prominent places such as the Iowa Memorial 
Union, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and the Campus Recreation and Wellness 
Center. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics also boasts an impressive 
collection of art in public places.

The University of Northern Iowa, in Cedar Falls, has acquired many compelling 
public works of art and seeks the active engagement of the campus community 
in selecting art for display.   The college’s art department is also home to the 
Public Art Incubator program.

A student assists with installing Iowa artist Isabel Barbuzza’s work at the 

University of Iowa’s Main Library.

Art at Iowa’s Public Universities

Iowa students are impacted annually through class 
visits, school tours and art-integrated curriculum

University students and faculty have participated 
in the selection of public art on campus

 1,300
 1,200

Students learn about Christian Petersen’s 4-H Calf at Iowa State University. 

University Museums, Iowa State University.

The cultural impact of Art in State Buildings on Iowa 

artists, audiences and the quality of art in our state has 

been profound.

 Since its inception, the program has supported 

the acquisition of many significant works of art, highlighting diverse 
cultural and historical traditions, and included a broad representa-
tion of citizens in the selection of art.

Art in State Buildings continues to help advance the careers of Iowa 
artists, including those emerging and already established in their 
field.

Artists Brad Kaspari and Carolyn Braaksma were 
commissioned by the Iowa Department of Natural 
Resources, through the Art in State Buildings pro-
gram, to create a series of public works of art for 
Honey Creek Resort State Park, Iowa’s first public 
resort. The artists found inspiration in the plant 
and animal species native to the area and in the 
lodge’s Midwestern “Prairie School” style.

Rubbing the helmet of this bronze sculpture, depicting Iowa Hawkeye football legend Nile 
Kinnick, is a game day tradition for good luck for Hawkeye football players and coaches, 
including Head Coach Kirk Ferentz (pictured).  

The late artist Larry Nowlan was commissioned through Art in State Buildings to create this 
statue, which is now enjoyed by more than 70,000 Hawkeye fans at every home game.  
Through his other artworks on campus, Nolan has helped immortalize Iowa wrestling 
legend Dan Gable and the Hawkeyes 1939 football squad, known as the “Ironmen”.

CULTURAL IMPACT

 Jeff Becker, Photographer

Maslow’s Theory, Jack Wilkes. Human Performance Center. 

University of Northern Iowa Art in Architecture Collection.

The University of Northern Iowa’s Lang Hall includes more than 50 original art-
works by Iowa artists. The works belong to the University of Northern Iowa Art 
in Architecture collection, supported in part by the Iowa Art in State Buildings 
program.

Iowa Artists

Celebrating Nature

Pride of the Hawkeyes

Chemical elements and molecular models inspired 
Norie Sato’s public art installation made of glass, 
aluminum and LED lights for the Hach Chemistry 
Building at Iowa State University. Installed in 2012, 
e+l+e+m+e+n+t+a+l, was supported in part by the 
Iowa Art in State Buildings program, with major 
funding provided by Iowa State University alumnus 
Dr. Richard Forsythe (B.S. Chemistry 1943 and Ph.D. 
Chemistry 1949).

The University of Northern Iowa’s Public Art Incubator is training the next generation of 
public artists. Through mentorships with faculty and staff and partnerships with profes-
sional artists, students gain meaningful experience and learn the artistic and organizational 
skills necessary to carry out large-scale public art commissions on their own.

Public support of the arts plays an important 

role in a democratic society and serves as a 

catalyst for business and private giving. 

Art in State Buildings projects create and sustain jobs 
for artists and arts workers, supporting vital small 
businesses and our state’s growing creative economy. 
Public art commissions have an important effect on other 
industries, as well.  Artists hired as contractors, in turn, 
hire local companies and subcontractors to design, engi-
neer, build and install large works of art, which are then 
maintained, studied and interpreted by other workers 
and professionals.

Public funds directed to the purchase of fine art have 
been greatly enhanced by private gifts, donations and 
commissions. 

PRIVATE GIVING AND ECONOMIC IMPACT

University of Northern Iowa students assisted in fabricating a public artwork which was 

part of an Art in State Buildings project. UNI Special Collections & University Archives

Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University

Artists as Entrepreneurs: UNI’s Public Art Incubator

Art Meets Science

$1 Million

Iowa’s three public univer-

sities have raised nearly $1 

million in private gifts to 

support Art in State Build-

ings projects.

Iowa’s Art in State Buildings program brings art into public 

places where Iowans learn, work, visit and live. 

For more information on Art in State Buildings, visit 

www.iowaartscouncil.org

For more information and learning resources on Art in State Buildings projects, visit 

www.publicartarchive.org/iowa.

Art in State Buildings is administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, 

in cooperation with the Iowa Board of Regents and the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.

Front: Procession, Michaela Mahady. LeBaron Hall, Iowa State University. Supported by the Iowa Art in State Buildings Program. 

Photo: Jim Heemstra, Iowa State University Alumni Association. 

160+

1,000+

Public facilities en-

hanced by public art

People experience art at Iowa’s 

public universities annually

Public artworks commissioned 

or directly acquired

220,000+