Current director of the University of Iowa Museum of Art Sean O’Harrow came to speak to the Tippie College of Business Strategic Innovation (SI) Academy on the afternoon of Thursday, March 22, 2012. He spoke in depth to the first and second-year MBA students and Tippie faculty about the many challenges of his position and of the museum as a whole. After the 2008 flood, the University of Iowa Museum of Art was devastated along with the arts campus, as it was situated on the floodplain of the Iowa River.
Since that time the collection, valued at between $800 million and $1 billion, has been displaced and is currently residing in a number of off-site locations in cities including Chicago and Davenport, IA. For instance, Jackson Pollock’s 1943 “Mural” is installed at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. Sean O’Harrow talked to the group about the opportunities that the Museum of Art has seized as a direct result of the flood and various strategies used to pursue these numerous possibilities. His group is currently experimenting with new ways of presenting art to the many constituencies that the museum serves, especially those in the 18-to-25-age bracket.
He also spoke directly to general management techniques that he has learned over the years, and the differences between the non-profit and profit organizational structures. And while there is no building at the present, Sean O’Harrow and his staff are extraordinarily hopeful and excited about what the future will bring for the University of Iowa Museum of Art. Opportunities for innovation abound as the museum moves into the 21st century.