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Preservation

Exterior renovation, 2007.
In coming years, the Museum plans for a third phase of renovation to do a complete restoration of the interior of the Studio so that it looks much as it did when Wood designed, built, and lived in it.

Important preservation work has already been accomplished, but there is still more to do. An endowment has been established. If you are interested in supporting further preservation of the Grant Wood Studio, contact CRMA Development Director Joanne Wzontek at jwzontek@crma.org or 319.366.7503.

January 2011

National Trust for Historic Preservation Awards CRMA Preservation Grant from Jeffris Heartland Fund
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has been awarded a $9,000 grant by the Midwest Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation from the Jeffris Heartland Fund to help fund a Decorative Arts Analysis & Interior Restoration Plan for the Grant Wood Studio. Project architect is Rick Seely, of OPN Architects, Inc. Des Moines. His report and analysis is expected in the summer of 2011.

October 2007

 

Major Exterior Facelift Completed at Grant Wood Studio
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art announces that the exterior restoration of the Grant Wood Studio is almost complete.

“Many years of harsh Iowa weather had taken their toll on the building, especially the roof and cupola,” says Terry Pitts, Executive Director. “The main goal of our project was to weatherproof the exterior and thus to protect the interior, which Wood himself designed and built. To accomplish this we had layers of old paint stripped off and the roofing removed so that the underlying structure could be inspected and fixed, if necessary,” he continues. “I’m pleased to say that there were no surprises or new areas of concern, just a few rotten boards that had to be consolidated or replaced.”

Everything on the outside of the Studio from the weathervane to the ground has been restored and the building is ready to face another Iowa winter. It has a new paint job—with some surprising paint colors—and a new roof. In addition, all of the original windows were removed and painstakingly restored. “I suspect the exterior looks as good as it did when Wood moved in more than eighty years ago,” Pitts says.

The $400,000 project was funded by a major gift from the Virginia Broadston Berg Trust, a Historic Site Preservation Grant from the State Historical Society of Iowa, and private donations. OPN Architects oversaw the project and Renaissance Restoration served as general contractor.

February 2007

State Historical Society of Iowa Grant To Help Preserve And Restore Studio Exterior
The State Historical Society of Iowa has awarded the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art a Historic Site Preservation Grant of $100,000 to preserve the exterior of the Grant Wood Studio and restore its appearance so that it will be as pristine as the day Grant Wood moved in more than 80 years ago. During phase one of our restoration project we succeeded in stabilizing the building structurally and preparing it to receive thousands of visitors annually. phase two is now aimed at providing a safe cocoon for the studio itself by taking on major exterior repairs, including replacement of the roof, a complete rebuilding of the cupola, and a thorough stripping and re-painting of exterior painted surfaces. It also involves a number of smaller steps that will erase modern elements such as the contemporary window air conditioner so that visitors will truly be able to absorb the carefully crafted ambiance of the studio and home that Wood created for himself. When phase two is completed, the Studio will be preserved for new generations to enjoy and learn from. The estimated cost for phase two is $500,000. The Museum has already raised more than three-quarters of the funds for this project, thanks to the State Historical Society grant and a significant gift from the Virginia Broadston Berg Trust.

December 2006

New Hand Railing Does Dual Duty at Grant Wood Studio

Thanks to a grant from the Linn County Historical Commission, one element of the stairway leading into the Grant Wood Studio will be preserved and the steps will be a little easier to climb.

When Wood built his studio in 1924, he added a linked chain made out of forged metal to the south wall of the stairwell, giving visitors something to hold onto as the ascended and descended the narrow steps. At both ends of the chain “railing,” Wood created decorative escutcheons out of a soft material, such as cardboard, to give the apparatus what might be considered a medieval look. But with the increased usage by visitors of the Studio, the escutcheons were becoming endangered due to frequent rubbing from the metal chain. OPN Architects of Cedar Rapids devised a plan to provide a handrail on the opposite wall to give visitors something better to hold on to than Grant Wood’s original chain.

January 2006

Wood memorabilia on display in Studio

Visitors to the Grant Wood Studio are now able to see a number of historically important objects related to the Studio thanks to loans from the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, a gift from Iowa City resident Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret, and a bequest of Marilyn Pickens. Now on display in the Grant Wood Studio and Visitor Center are Wood’s easel, two steamer trunks he used while living there, examples of his collection of majolica ceramics, a number of pieces of wrought iron designed by Wood, and the original cupola lantern.

September 2005

Major Grant Wood Exhibition Opens at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

One of the most recognized paintings in the world, American Gothic, returned to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art for a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition: Grant Wood At 5 Turner Alley from September 10 through December 4, 2005.

As the central load in a major exhibition of more than 170 works focusing mainly on the artists’ most prolific years, 1924 to 1935 when he lived and worked at 5 Turner Alley, American Gothic exemplifies Grant Wood’s pride in the Midwest and the Regionalist Art movement he so strongly supported.

Grant Wood at 5 Turner Alley integrated the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art’s extensive collection with other special loans from museums and private collections across the country to reveal Wood’s interpretation of the land and people of his roots.

December 2004

Historic Grant Wood Studio opens to the public

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art opened the Grant Wood Studio and Visitor Center at 5 Turner Alley to the public on Saturday, December 11, 2004.

The CRMA was given the original studio in 2002 and has been working on the building since. American artist Grant Wood (1891-1942) lived and worked in the 5 Turner Alley Studio between 1924 and 1935, and it was in this studio that he painted one of the world’s most famous works of art, American Gothic.

The Grant Wood Studio and Visitor Center at 5 Turner Alley-located at 810 Second Avenue SE, just four blocks from the Museum-will be open Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4:00 p.m., except major holidays. Intimate, guided tours of the actual studio where Wood worked are offered on the hour, with the last tour scheduled at 3:00 p.m. each day. Tour prices are $5 for adults and $3 for students (18 and under) and seniors (62 and older). Children under 5 are free if accompanied by an adult. Members of the CRMA receive a $1 discount.

There is also a Studio Package available that offers a savings on admission to both the Studio and the Museum. A portion of every admission also helps the continuing restoration and preservation of the Studio.

After the donation of the Studio, the CRMA began phase one of the renovation project and continues to restore the Studio to its condition during the Grant Wood era. In addition to restoring the Studio to be able to offer tours, the lower floor of the late 19th century carriage house has been converted into a visitor center, which features exhibitions, a video presentation on Grant Wood and the Studio, and a gift shop. There is no admission charge to the Visitor Center and Gift Shop.

In addition to American Gothic, Wood created many of his most famous paintings in this studio, including Woman with Plants, 1929 (CRMA), Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, 1931 (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Daughters of Revolution, 1932 (Cincinnati Art Museum), and Dinner for Threshers, 1934 (de Young Museum). These works made Wood an internationally famous artist and linked him with several other prominent Midwestern painters - notably John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton – who became know as the Regionalists.

According to CRMA Executive Director Terry Pitts, history has been kind to the studio. “We are very fortunate the Grant Wood Studio has had only two owners in the past 75 years, and that they both understood its historic value. While there was and still is a considerable amount of preservation work to do, the crucial elements of the original architecture have been preserved.” The Oak Park, Illinois firm of Gilmore Franzen Architects, Inc. served as historic preservation consultants. Novak Design Group of Cedar Rapids served as project architects.

November 2004

Studio Donors recognized

The Museum announced the major donors to the Grant Wood Studio and Visitor Center.

Founding Donors
The Grant Wood Studio at 5 Turner Alley was generously donated to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art by Audrey Linge-Ovel and Cedar Memorial.

Founding Donors for the Preservation of the Studio and Construction of the Visitor Center:
• The Hall-Perrine Foundation
• State of Iowa – Community Attraction & Tourism Program
• Anonymous 2 Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
• Benjamin Moore Paints
• Cedar Rapids Garden Club
• CRST International Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
• Diamond V Mills Donor-Advised Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
• Dows Family Charitable Trust
• General Mills
• Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation General Fund
• Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Iowa Community Cultural Grant Program
• Kings Material
• Kleiman Construction
• Linn County Historical Preservation Commission
• Linn County Witwer Trust Fund
• Scott & Dee McIntyre
• National Trust for Historic Preservation
• Novak Design Group
• River City Paint & Supply
• Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids
• John M. and Wilma Ann Wallin Sagers Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
• Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area
• Wells Fargo
• The Worley Family

July 2004

Prestel to publish book on Wood and Studio

The prestigious art publisher Prestel will publish Grant Wood’s Studio: Birthplace of American Gothic. Authors include Terence Pitts, Elisabeth Foxley Leach, Jane Milosch, James M. Dennis, Wanda Corn, and Joni Kinsey. The Book will be out September of 2005 to coincide with the major Grant Wood exhibition at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art focusing on the crucial decade when Wood lived and worked at 5 Turner Alley. The exhibition, Grant Wood At 5 Turner Alley, will be held from September 9 through December 4, 2005, and will feature the Museum’s extensive collection of Grant Wood’s works, as well as several of his most famous paintings on loan from other museums, including American Gothic from the Art Institute of Chicago.

July 2003

Gift of Property to CRMA

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA) has been given the original studio where American artist Grant Wood (1891-1942) lived and worked between 1924 and 1935.

The studio and some surrounding property have been donated by Cedar Memorial Funeral Home, Inc., which has owned the property for more than a quarter century.

“The studio is a work of art in itself,” said the CRMA’s Executive Director Terry Pitts.

“Wood designed and built the interior. There are only a handful of historic artist’s studios in America that bear such an intimate relationship with the artist who lived and worked there.”

Spearheading the donation of the studio were two of the owners of Cedar Memorial Funeral Homes, Audrey Linge and her son John Linge. The Linge family has a long history in Cedar Rapids as prominent benefactors to the local cultural scene.

Grant from Henry Luce Foundation
The CRMA received a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to prepare an exhibition and catalog focusing on the crucial decade when Wood lived and worked at 5 Turner Alley.

“Grant Wood returned from a trip to Munich in 1928 and abruptly changed his style,” according to former CRMA Curator Jane Milosch, who organized the exhibition. “Influenced by the Northern Renaissance paintings and the contemporary art of the Neue Sachlichkeit movement that he saw during his three months in Munich, Wood abandoned his impressionistic style and rapidly developed his own unique brand of realism.”
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