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Flood Recovery Update

From Third Avenue Entrance - June 13, 2008


Final Update June 2009

It has taken one full year but the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art will be back to normal as of June 19, 2009. The flood of June 12 and 13, 2008 will never be forgotten, but we can now look forward rather than backward. 

The year that it took to recover required hard work and sacrifice by the Museum staff, who put aside their normal duties for extended periods of time in order to help with the rebuilding effort. Our recovery was made possible by the generosity of the community, businesses, government agencies, and foundations that are listed below. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

The collection storage and exhibition preparation areas that were severely damaged by a foot of sewage-contaminated water have been rebuilt. The entire collection of more than 7,000 objects has been returned to its proper storage locations in the basement. The galleries have been reinstalled. And now the Museum can get back to its real mission of exciting, engaging, and educating our community and visitors through our exhibitions, programs, and collection. 

We are pleased to be able to lend a gallery to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, which lost its primary building in the flood. We welcome them and their members to the Museum of Art family.

Thank you all for your support and good wishes!

Donors to the CRMA Flood Recovery Fund:
Hall-Perrine Foundation
Rebuild Iowa Office, State of Iowa – JumpStart Program
Henry Luce Foundation
Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
National Endowment for the Humanities
Rockwell Collins
National Endowment for the Arts
Humanities Iowa
Alliant Energy Foundation
Association of Midwest Museums
Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Iowa Museum Association
And several hundred individual contributors

Update February 2009

The Museum and numerous subcontractors have been working for the past several months on restoring the basement and replacing the various art storage shelving units that were badly damaged in the Museum’s basement during the flood of June 2008. By early March we expect to begin returning all 6,000 works of art back into their assigned storage locations, a process that will take several months to complete. 

About 120 works of art had to be sent away for conservation attention as a result of either getting slightly wet or reacting to the rapid rise in humidity. Nearly all of these have been restored and returned to the Museum. We expect the remainder will be returned soon.

With our current schedule, the second floor galleries will be reopened to the public by the end of May 2009. Visitors will once again be able to see our galleries showing Mauricio Lasansky: Master Prinkmaker, Malvina Hoffman: Rodin’s Last Student, and Art in Roman Life: The Tom and Nan Riley Roman Portrait Bust Collection.

Much of the cost of recovery has been covered by the Museum’s fine arts insurance policy.  In addition, we also gratefully acknowledge the flood recovery contributions  from many individuals and critical flood recovery grants from:

The Hall-Perrine Foundation
The Henry Luce Foundation
The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
The National Endowment for the Humanities
Rockwell Collins
The National Endowment for the Arts
Alliant Energy Foundation
Humanities Iowa
Association of Midwest Museums
Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Iowa Museum Association

Update Friday, September 12

The Museum reopened its first floor galleries and the entire Carnegie wing on August 30. Admission will be free for all visitors through November 1, 2008. We continue to work toward the rebuilding of our lower level where the collection storage and exhibition preparation rooms are located. We expect this to be completed by February 2009, at which time we will then be able to start moving all 5,600 works of art back into their assigned storage locations. We’re hoping to have the second floor galleries reopened to the public before June 2009. Please click here to see our current exhibitions.

On September 8, we were honored to host a visit by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Iowa Governor Chet Culver, and Iowa Congressional representatives Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley. Speaker Pelosi concluded her daylong tour of the effects of the F-5 tornado that hit eastern Iowa on May 25 and the recent June floods by viewing the Museum’s exhibition The Year of the River: Flood Photography from The Gazette. 

Update Monday, August 11, 2008-Museum Store Preview

The CRMA continues to make progress in our flood recovery efforts and we are planning to reopen our doors on Saturday, August 30, 2008.

The Museum Store at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA) is hosting a special One-Day Museum Store Preview on Saturday, August 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. In celebration of this special event, everything in the Museum Store will be 10% off for the entire day. The Store offers a unique variety of items and great creations of Iowa, including books, jewelry, posters, art-related gifts and other creative items. You can be sure to find something for everyone!

The Museum Store will resume regular hours on Saturday, August 30:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Thursday: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Sunday: noon to 4:00 p.m.

Update Thursday, July 31, 2008

Click here to see a recent video of the flood recovery efforts at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art created by The Gazette. Listen as Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Sean Ulmer talks about the CRMA's recovery and plans for the exhibitions that will be on display when the Museum reopens.

Update Thursday, July 17, 2008

In the past, the Museum has used steam as the energy source for dehumidifying the air in the galleries and collection storage of our Museum wing. Alliant Energy's steam utilities were hard hit during the flooding.  This has led us to re-evaluate our source of energy for the dehumidification process and we are proceeding to add two natural gas-powered hot water boilers. This will permit us to resume the complete dehumidification process on our own much quicker - getting us much closer to our goal of opening the Museum's first floor galleries by Labor Day. Our existing steam system will remain in place and can be re-engaged in the future as a back-up system.

Update Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art continues to make progress in our flood recovery efforts. The majority of the affected artworks have been sent to Chicago for conservation.

The Museum continues to recover its services and water has now been restored to the building. Reopening of the Museum depends heavily on steam service. As a result, steam will need to be restored before the Museum can become fully functional on its own.

Weeks of air quality testing have been conducted to ensure any mold or additional air contaminants left as a result of the flood are gone. We will soon be able to begin the process of cleaning our air handling system.

The Museum is also conducting an analysis of all of the equipment and supplies that were lost in the flood, as nearly all of the frames, tools, vitrines, crates, supplies and other materials housed in storerooms, the woodshop, and the exhibition preparation rooms were unsalvageable.

Also, as many of you know, a part of our permanent collection consists of works by Iowa City printmaker, Mauricio Lasansky. The flood affected approximately 50 of his framed prints. The Museum staff has been able to unframe the works and the prints themselves are safe and have been moved into storage.

Update Friday, June 27, 2008 Grant Wood Studio-Free Admission through Labor Day

We are pleased to announce that the Grant Wood Studio and Visitor Center was unaffected by the flood. The Studio and will be reopening on Saturday, July 12 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. with FREE ADMISSION FOR EVERYONE! New Studio hours will be every Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. through Labor Day. Free admission will continue through Labor Day as well. Please stop down to see us!

Update Friday, June 20, 2008--CRMA Post-Flood Recovery

CURRENT STATUS OF THE CEDAR RAPIDS MUSEUM OF ART.  The Museum is currently closed and all summer events are canceled. We have electricity, telephone service, and email.  We hope to reopen in a limited capacity around Labor Day, but it is likely to be many months before the full Museum is open to the public.

THE CHALLENGE AHEAD.  The Museum has already begun the lengthy process of carefully drying, cleaning and sanitizing the basement and collection storage areas so that the collection can eventually be returned to storage. The entire exhibition preparation area was destroyed. Nearly all of the frames, tools, equipment, vitrines, crates, supplies and other materials housed in storerooms, the woodshop, and the exhibition preparation rooms were unsalvageable and the entire artwork storage system is in jeopardy. The Museum’s share of the cleanup and replacement costs are likely to exceed $250,000.

BACKGROUND.  In the days following June 12, 2008, more than nine square miles of Cedar Rapids lay under the flood waters of the Cedar River. At the height of the flooding, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art was nearly surrounded by water. While the Museum ultimately did not take in any flood waters, we did receive approximately nine inches of water which backed up into the basement and collection storage area as the flooding overcame the City’s sewage system and created a powerful backwards surge.

THE COLLECTION.  Thanks to the hard work of staff and volunteers, nearly all artwork was removed from the art storage collection area into upper floor galleries or was moved to higher places within art storage before there was any danger. Less than 5% of the Museum’s collection has been affected by water and high humidity levels and these items are being examined and monitored by conservators. The remainder of the collection has been moved into temporary storage in the Museum’s galleries. 

THE GRANT WOOD STUDIO.  The Grant Wood Studio was not affected by the flooding. However it will remain closed until July 12 so that Museum staff can concentrate on work at the Museum itself.

VOLUNTEERS.  We have received many gratifying inquiries from friends of the Museum that want to be involved and would like to volunteer. But at this point we are not using any volunteers.

HOW YOU CAN HELP.  You can help by making a contribution to the Museum that will aid in the cleanup and recovery efforts.  As always, your membership renewal and annual fund contribution will be necessary for our ongoing operational costs. I urge you to consider an extra gift to the annual fund to help with our disaster recovery expenses. 

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art looks forward to being part of a stronger Cedar Rapids and a revitalized downtown district.

Terry Pitts
Executive Director

Update Tuesday, June 17, 2008--A Statement from Executive Directory, Terry Pitts

The situation at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is as follows.  The flood waters stopped several feet short of the Museum, but we did receive about 9 inches of water which came into the basement of the Museum wing as a result of the powerful water pressure moving back through the city's sewer system.

Thanks to an incredible group of staff and volunteers, nearly all artwork was removed from art storage into upper floor galleries or was moved to higher places within art storage before any water entered the building.

We are currently engaged in the process of drying and cleaning the basement.  We have a full conservation crew on hand that is inspecting every work of art.

Currently, we have telephone service and computer access, and half of the Museum has electricity.

I cannot project when the Museum will re-open to  the public.

I want to thank everyone for you messages of concern and offers of help.  At this point in time we are not seeking any volunteers.

Terry Pitts
Executive Director