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Release: Jan. 5, 2001

Two exhibitions of photographs of the West will be at University of Iowa Museum of Art

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Museum of Art will show two exhibitions of photographs -- "19th-Century Photographs of Native Americans from University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections" and "Ansel Adams and the National Parks" -- Jan. 20-March 18.

These exhibitions are presented in conjunction with "Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum," which will be on display at the museum the same dates as the photographic shows.

Admission to the museum and to the exhibitions will be free.

"Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum" features 64 important paintings and sculptures from the 1820s through the 1940s by American artists fascinated with Indian and Hispanic cultures and the majestic landscapes of the western territories. The artworks, which celebrate the landscape and pay tribute to Native Americans and their cultures, served to establish American art and its subject matter as new and exciting to audiences worldwide.

The opening of all three exhibitions will be celebrated at the museum noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21.

More than 400 photographs of Native Americans, western landscapes, historic events, and pueblos taken during the mid-19th century will be included in "19th-Century Photographs of Native Americans from University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections." The albumen photographs were part of an album donated to University Libraries by J.L. Pickard, former editor of The Des Moines Register, who received it from Jane Clark Kirkwood, wife of the former Iowa governor and senator.

According to Kathleen Edwards, curator of prints, drawings and photographs and curator of both exhibitions, photography played a crucial role in the settlement of the American West.

"It was not possible for the Smithsonian to include photographs in the ‘Lure of the West’ exhibition because they cannot be exposed to light and fluctuations in temperature and humidity for long periods of time," she said. "But it is essential that photography be included in the story of the development of the myths of the West and of its Native peoples.

"The exhibition documents how early photographs of the West conveyed a message to the white population that the West was safe for settlement. The implications were that the wilderness was tamed, the Native peoples had lost the power to endanger and were in the process of assimilating to white culture, and American values prevailed."

Ansel Adams is one of America’s most famous photographers. His views of the West include some of the most familiar and recognizable photographs ever taken.

Fifteen of his photographs of the National Parks make up "Ansel Adams and the National Parks." Famous views include Yosemite, Canyon de Chelly, Yellowstone, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon. Fourteen of the photographs are on loan from the Center of Creative Photography at the University of Arizona.

Adams’ photographs convey his philosophy that nature and beauty, as symbolized by wilderness, are essential elements of the human soul. Adams expressed his feeling of spiritual oneness with nature through carefully selected and observed subject matter, the grand vistas of the American West and the minutiae of nature.

According to Adams, "A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed, and is, thereby, a true manifestation of what one feels about life in its entirety."

"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.

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.