For the past seventy-five years the School of Art, Art History, and Design 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 could deposit a work in the collection in recognition of their achievement of the terminal degree. The collection contains nearly 6,000 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 item per year, renewable annually, members of the university community can chose works of art for their office or work area. Many individuals and units across the University of Iowa are currently renting works in the collection. Nearly the entire history of the school is therefore spread around the offices and public spaces of the university.

The quality of the collection is astonishing and reflects the extraordinary reputation of the School and its graduate alumni. 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, management, and conservation. We deeply appreciate your patronage of the Thesis Rental Gallery.

Special request

Over the years, some of our treasured artworks have gone missing. If you know of any art on campus you think may belong to the Thesis Rental Gallery, please let us know so we can check our records. We greatly appreciate your efforts in helping us return artworks to the collection.

Performing Arts Annex (PAX)


150 N. Riverside Drive
Iowa City, IA 52242

Gallery hours

  • By appointment, between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday
For information about renting works from the collection, please contact the Office of Visual Materials at