Artfulness of the Scheman Building to be discovered through tour


The Scheman Building is the site of the Brunnier Art Museum. It is the state’s only accredited museum emphasizing a decorative arts collection, and one of the nation’s few museums located within a performing arts and conference complex.

Logan Metzger

Iowa State and Ames community members will be able to take a tour through one of the most artful buildings on campus.

The “Art Walk: Artfulness in the Scheman Building” will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Scheman Building. Attendance is free.

Advance registration is not required for the tour, but it is appreciated by the University Museums team. Interested individuals can register on the University Museums website.

“From its beginnings as part of Iowa State Center to its most recent Art on Campus installation, explore the history and public art of the Scheman Building, home to the Brunnier Art Museum. Brooke Rogers, University Museums interpretive specialist, will lead the walk,” according to the University Museums website.

Before someone goes on the tour, here is some information that may be brought up on it.

The Scheman Building was named for Carl Scheman, who was an Iowa State alumnus and a major contributor to the Iowa State Center. It was completed in 1975 at a cost of $5.3 million and it now hosts small and large conferences, board meetings, pre-performance dinners, wedding receptions and much more.

The Scheman Building is also the site of the Brunnier Art Museum. It is the state’s only accredited museum emphasizing a decorative arts collection, and one of the nation’s few museums located within a performing arts and conference complex.

“The Brunnier Art Museum is truly one of a kind,” according to the University Museums website. “Founded in 1975, the museum is named after its benefactors, Henry J. Brunnier and his wife Ann. See ceramics, glass, dolls, ivory, jade and enameled metals in the Brunnier Collection.”

The University Art Collection includes prints, paintings, sculptures, textiles, carpets, wood, lacquered objects, silver and furniture. The regularly-changing exhibitions, from the permanent collection or a visiting collection, provide educational opportunities. Lectures, receptions, conferences, university classes, panel discussions and gallery walks all take place to further the interpretation of these objects.

Before the Scheman Building was completed and opened in 1975, it was started way back in 1959.

“Iowa State University President James Hilton had a vision of expanding outreach education, the cultural arts and athletics, and housing the programs in a state-of-the-art complex called the Iowa State Center,” according to the University Museums website.

Beginning in 1959, private monies were solicited from alumni and friends across the nation for fifteen years, and in 1962, Ann and Henry Brunnier from San Francisco joined the effort.

Henry Brunnier arranged for a substantial donation to the Iowa State Center building fund through a trust agreement. Ann Brunnier pledged a collection of dolls and decorative arts amassed over 55 years. At the time the gifts were made, Henry’s gift was considered the most significant, but it was Ann’s that proved to be the most enduring.

The actual size of her collection was not known until its arrival at Iowa State in 1974, and to the astonishment of University administration, it filled two semi-truck trailers. Over the next six months, more than 4,000 objects were unpacked and cataloged, and on Sept. 19, 1975, the Iowa State Center’s Scheman Continuing Education Building opened, including the Henry J. Brunnier Galleries on the top floor.

Since 1961, when Henry and Ann Brunnier gifted their collections to Iowa State University, over 600 other private patrons have contributed more than 28,000 objects to expand the University Museums’ permanent collections.

The bequest of the Edith D. and Torsten Lagerstrom Collection greatly expanded the areas of European and American decorative arts. Other collections have grown consistently as gifts were made over time, such as the W. Allen Perry Collection of Asian Arts and the Iowa Artists Collection.