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Release: Immediate

UI Museum of Art receives Iowa Humanities Board awards

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Museum of Art and its curator of education, Emily Vermillion, have received the 1996 Iowa Humanities Award for Outstanding Project in the Public Humanities.

The award was given for the educational programming that accompanied the exhibition, "Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie," which was shown at the museum Aug. 17-Nov. 3, 1996.

Stephen Prokopoff, director of the UI Museum of Art, said, "We are delighted to have this acknowledgement of the museum's rich and innovative educational programming for both the community and the university."

Iowa Humanities Awards are given annually by the Iowa Humanities Board. They recognize significant contributions through the humanities to the cultural life of Iowa and are granted in three categories. The award for Outstanding Project in the Public Humanities is chosen from a pool of grant projects funded by the IHB during the preceding calendar year.

The other two categories are Lifetime Service to the Public Humanities and Distinguished Service to the Public Humanities.

In giving the award, the IHB noted that "the 'Plain Pictures' exhibit at the University of Iowa Museum of Art was the first-ever artistic survey of the great American Prairie. More than 14,000 individuals participated in the exhibition and the complementary programming while it was on display in Iowa City.

"Under the direction of Emily Vermillion, 'A Prairie Seed Packet,' a teaching resource packet was developed and distributed to 53 regional school districts and extension services. The packet won an honorable mention for educational resources from the American Association of Museums.

"In addition, a three-day regional symposium sponsored by the Museum of Art, 'Images and Functions of the American Prairie,' brought together a diverse array of humanities scholars with the public and arts educators to explore the function, images and viewpoints about the prairie."

Vermillion was assisted in the preparation of the Prairie Seed Packet by Deborah-Eve Lombard, education assistant at the museum.

"Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie" and its companion book issued by the Smithsonian Institution Press examined artistic responses to the prairies from the 1830s to the present. At the UI the exhibition included more than 80 paintings and photographs by both well and lesser known artists, including Grant Wood, George Catlin, Alfred Jacob Miller, Worthington Whittredge, John Steuart Curry and Keith Jacobshagen.

Total attendance at the UI showing of "Plain Pictures" was 14,555, a record for attendance at a single exhibition at the UI Museum of Art.

The 1996 opening of "Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie" at the UI Museum of Art commemorated both the state of Iowa and the University of Iowa sesquicentennials. Following its display at the UI Museum of Art, the exhibition traveled to the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Neb.

The exhibition was organized by the University of Iowa Museum of Art with guest curator Joni Kinsey, an assistant professor at the UI School of Art and Art History. It was supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal agency, and Land O'Lakes Inc.