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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 16, 2011

Mason submits remarks on proposed Pollock sale to Iowa House panel

University of Iowa President Sally Mason submitted remarks to the Iowa House Appropriations Subcommittee today, Wednesday, Feb. 16 arguing against proposed legislation that would order the sale of Jackson Pollock's "Mural." Mason was traveling to raise private support and could not attend the hearing.

UI General Counsel Carroll Reasoner, UI Museum of Art Director Sean O'Harrow and Board of Regents, State of Iowa President David Miles appeared before the panel in person and made similar remarks in defense of the Pollock.

The 1943 painting was a generous donation by Peggy Guggenheim, an art collector who gave it to the university in 1951. It measures 9 feet tall and 20 feet wide and is currently on loan to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

Following are Mason’s remarks:

“Please accept my apologies for not being able to attend the subcommittee in person today, as I am out of state raising private support for the university.

“Since this legislation was introduced, donors to the university have rightfully been asking the question how they can be sure that their gifts to the University of Iowa can be protected?

“This is an issue that I, and the entire University of Iowa community, care deeply about and my position has not changed. I do not want to sell the painting. This very generous donation by Ms. Guggenheim was made to the University with trust that we would be good caretakers of her gift. We cannot break the trust of our donors. We must honor those wishes and requests.

“I have asked Carroll Reasoner, the UI’s general counsel and who also chaired the UI Museum Envisioning Committee to join you this morning to provide additional details about some of the legal obstacles we likely would encounter if we were to try to sell the painting. I’ve also asked Sean O’Harrow, director of the UI Museum of Art and former director of the Figge Museum in Davenport, to discuss with you the implications of the proposed sale on the museum.

“These works cannot be replaced, and Iowa as a state will suffer a far greater long-term loss in the state's image and quality of life than any immediate proceeds gained.”

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,