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Release: Feb. 2, 2001

UI Museum of Art presents events Feb 15 & 16 in conjunction with 'Lure of the West'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Museum of Art will present a lecture Feb. 15 and a reading and music Feb. 16 in conjunction with its current exhibition, "Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum," on view at the museum through March 18.

Phillip Round, an associate professor of English at the UI, will speak on "Buffalo Bill" at
3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15 in the Museum of Art.

At 7:30 p.m. the following night, Friday, Feb. 16, Kathryn Wikert of Colfax, Iowa, will read letters from her relatives who were travelling west in the 1850s and ‘60s. Wikert’s reading will be accompanied by harpist Kristin Fallon.

Kathy Lee Ogden and Renegade, a country and classic rock band, will perform after Wikert’s reading.

Round’s lecture will encompass the life history of William Frederick Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, who was born near Le Claire, Iowa in 1846. Round will also draw parallels between Cody’s life and the Smithsonian exhibition.

"The West lured Cody," Round said. "But Cody also made the West a lure. He was an entrepreneur."

By the time he was 15, Cody had been a bullwhacker, a mounted messenger, a trapper, a gold prospector and a Pony Express rider. Later he became famous: He was written about in dime novels by 1870, and eventually he was America’s best-known symbol of the western frontiersman.

"In 1872 Cody took to the stage portraying himself," Round said. "In 1883, he created the Wild West Show, a vehicle that propelled him to fortune and worldwide fame."

"Home to Iowa: Letters from the Western Trails, 1852-1864" is an unpublished compilation of letters from the Collection of Christopher and Mary Stageman of Council Bluffs. Wikert is the great-great granddaughter of the Stagemans, who were pioneer settlers of Kanesville, Iowa.

The Stagemans arrived in Iowa in 1850 from Maryland as a part of the Mormon movement to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Christopher and Mary Stageman, the parents, stayed in Iowa while their five children traveled the West.

John Stageman, the eldest son, went to California for 10 years to pan for gold. In letters to his parents and siblings, John speaks about the difficulties and dangers of mining.

"The Christopher and Mary Stageman collection of family letters reflects not only the historical times, but the universality of human experiences," Wikert said. "The words of Sarah, John and James Stageman travel across time into our hearts as they write of the joys and trials of life in the 1850s and 1860s."

"Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum" explores the origins of the myths of the West that still generate in American culture.

"Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum" is one of eight exhibitions in "Treasures to Go," touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.

Programs and exhibitions at the Museum of Art are supported in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Local sponsors of "Lure of the West" include Meskwaki Bingo/Casino/Hotel, the Gazette family of companies, Humanities Iowa, Tru Art Color Graphics, the Iowa Arts Council, and the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art, Inc. of Iowa City is the corporate sponsor for events at the UI Museum of Art during the 2000-2001 season, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

For information on the UI Museum of Art, visit on the World Wide Web. Information is available on other UI arts events at

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open 10 a.m. to
5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots across from the museum on Riverside Drive and just north of the museum.