Thesis Rental Gallery

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For the past seventy-five years the School of Art & Art History has collected thousands of artworks by artists attending the School's graduate studio programs. Following a tradition initiated by Giorgio Vasari at the founding of the Florentine Academy of Design in the 1560s, MFA graduates of the School can deposit a work in the collection in recognition of their graduation with the terminal degree. The collection contains nearly 10,000 pieces, including paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures and other art objects from as early as 1939.

The collection is unique in the country and provides a critical glimpse of academic American art over much of the last century. 

The gallery offers the rental of this original graduate student art for display in University buildings. For $65 per year, renewable annually, members of the University community can chose a piece of art for their office or work area. Nearly the entire history of the School is therefore spread around the offices and public spaces of the University.

Special note:

The Thesis Rental Gallery recently relocated from the Oakdale Campus to the Old Museum of Art Building on the main campus. We are very excited about this move, as it provides better storage space for the collection of 10,000 art works, as well as easier access for our patrons on the main campus. We are currently organizing, assessing, and photographing the entire collection as we place works into the new storage areas.  The quality of the Thesis Rental Gallery collection is astonishing and reflects the extraordinary reputation of the School and its graduate alumni. The collection is unique in the country and provides a critical glimpse of academic American art over much of the last century.  We hope to have a new website available in fall 2018 to simplify the selection process for our patrons. 

While we are not quite ready to open our doors for new rentals, we are still billing for rented works.  Many individuals and units across the University of Iowa are currently renting many of the works in the collection. The goal of renting these works is not to make money, but to display and share this unique collection.  The minimal rental fee offsets the cost of collection storage, administration, and maintenance.  Unfortunately, the current rental fee no longer covers the collection's costs, and is not enough to maintain adequate preparation and conservation of the collection. We deeply appreciate your past patronage of the Thesis Rental Collection and hope you can help us preserve this extraordinary resource by sharing the financial burden. As of May 1, we have increased the cost of the yearly rental of a work, from $40 to $65. While the increase is small and still very reasonable for the rental of artwork ($5.42/month), we realize this is a difficult request during this time of shrinking budgets.  We hope you are able to continue enjoying, and helping us to support this amazing art resource at the increased rate.

Gallery Hours:  The Thesis Rental Gallery is currently closed during relocation. We will reopen as soon as we can, after the move and continue to bill for rented paintings.

For information about renting art, contact the Office of Visual Materials, at (319) 335-1787 or email


Painting of woman painting from the Thesis Gallery