Major gift to support Grant Wood Studio in Cedar Rapids - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Major gift to support Grant Wood Studio in Cedar Rapids


CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art says it received a major grant from the Esther and Robert Armstrong Charitable Trust. 

$750,000 will be used to support and promote the Grant Wood Studio and Visitor Center.  That includes ongoing operating expenses, the development of new educational programs and the promotion of the studio to eastern Iowans.

The museum also says the grant makes it possible to eliminate the admission fee that was previously charged. In recognition of this grant, the Museum's Board of Trustees has voted to name the Visitor Center, located on the ground floor of the Studio building, after Esther and Robert Armstrong.

Robert Armstrong, who died in 1990, was chairman of the former Armstrong's department store in downtown Cedar Rapids and served on the Museum's Board of Trustees.  Esther, who died in 2002, and Robert, had strong personal connections with Grant Wood. They commissioned him to help design their Cedar Rapids home known as Pleasant Hill, which is now owned by Coe College.

"This generous grant will provide us with an extraordinary opportunity to turn the Grant Wood Studio and the Armstrong Visitor Center into a hub of educational programs and activities and to attract even more people to this wonderful historical site.  We're working on some very exciting plans that will be unveiled in the spring," said Executive Director Terry Pitts in a written statement.

 The Grant Wood Studio is located at 810 2nd Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids.

Wood's studio, which is in the building's second-floor loft, has a very distinguished history. It was designed and hand-built by the artist himself, making it one of very few artists' studios in America so intimately connected with the artist. The Studio is also renowned for the fact that Wood created nearly all of his most famous works of art while living there, including American Gothic. Wood's biographer R. Tripp Evans refers to the "extraordinary productivity" of the years at 5 Turner Alley as a period of happiness and creativity unequaled by any other time in Wood's life. "The Studio embodies a great deal of Cedar Rapids' history, as well as the community's pride in this exceptional artist," said Pitts.

The Grant Wood Studio and Armstrong Visitor Center are closed for the winter and are scheduled to reopen on April 2, 2011. Plans for a dedication ceremony of the Armstrong Visitor Center will be announced in March. For more information about the Studio and Grant Wood, consult the Museum of Art's website at

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