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University of Iowa News Release


April 10, 2008

Museum of Art Family Day will take visitors on a voyage to Africa April 27

Musical performances, storytelling, interactive games and videos shot on location will take UI Museum of Art (UIMA) visitors on an African cultural voyage during "WOW! Family Day: An African Celebration," a free, public event from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in the museum.

Using the UIMA's exemplary permanent collection of African Art as a basis, the celebration will present interdisciplinary activities that teach children the history and context of African artwork.

"We really wanted to give the public a chance to experience other African art forms in addition to what is in the galleries," Dale Fisher, the museum's director of education, said.

Scheduled Family Day performers are: Jacqueline Thompson, an Ottumwa-based performing artist and educator; and the UI Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble.

In her interactive "African Safari," Thompson will use storytelling, singing and dance to explore the diversity of the world's second-largest continent.

 "We want to engage all the senses when we discuss a culture and its art," Thompson said. "People will understand the art better if they understand the culture it comes from."

Family Day participants can see the influence of African culture on another country in the rhythms and dance of the UI Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble, which studies the folkloric music and dance traditions of Cuba.

"Africans were brought over for slave trade to work the sugar cane fields in Cuba, and their musical traditions mixed with European influence," said Daniel Stark, UI visiting assistant professor of dance and leader of the group. "From those two cultures, you get a very distinct and unique musical tradition in Cuba."

Between performances, visitors can watch screenings of films by Christopher Roy, UIMA African art research curator and the Elizabeth M. Stanley faculty fellow of African art history in the UI Department of Art and Art History. Roy, a renowned expert on the art of Burkina Faso, shot footage for these films on location during his research.

Children can also take part in scheduled games and curriculum-based activities, many of which were planned by Fisher in collaboration with a group of UI museum studies students. By attending weekly meetings at the museum, these students simultaneously fulfilled a requirement for their Museum Studies Certificate and gained hands-on museum experience.

Family Day, an annual event, is an extension of the UIMA's "Widen Our World" (WOW!) program, which invites third-grade students from Iowa City and surrounding areas to take a tour of the UIMA and explore works of art at the museum with their class.

Thompson is the owner of the Potpourri Fine Arts Academy in Ottumwa, where she offers instruction to children and adults in dance, music, drama and art. She received a doctorate in music education from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Conservatory of Music. As an official artist of the Iowa Arts Council, she serves schools and communities throughout the state as a visiting artist and is a certified artist for Character Counts! Through the Arts! She also serves as the ethnic/multicultural chair for the Iowa Choral Directors Association and is an approved adjudicator for the Iowa High School Music Association.

The UI Afro/Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble was founded six years ago after School of Music instructor James Dreier attended a workshop in Matanzas, Cuba, with Paul Cunliffe and Daniel Stark from the Department of Dance. Since then, the ensemble has developed into an interdisciplinary class drawing on resources from both the School of Music and the Dance Department. The group performs community outreach programs through UI Arts Share for schools throughout Iowa, and was chosen to perform at the 2004 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Nashville.

The UIMA's African art galleries, home to one of the largest and finest university collections of African art, enable visitors to experience a selection of the museum's 1,500 works, including wooden sculpture and masks, textiles, ceramics and basketry.

WOW! is a collaboration between the UIMA and the Iowa City Community School District, with support from US Bank.

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

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Maggie Anderson, Museum of Art, 319-335-1731,; Peter Alexander, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072 (office), 319-541-2846 (cell),; Writer: Maggie Anderson