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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

March 9, 2007

Renovated Morrill Hall opens this month

by Anne Krapfl

Four and one-half years after President Gregory Geoffroy announced a private fund-raising campaign to renovate Morrill Hall, the building reopens this month, a $10 million project nearly complete.

University Museums moved its new Christian Petersen Art Museum into Morrill Hall the last two weeks, and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching will move to Morrill from Lab of Mechanics during spring break week. The third tenant, the Center for Visual Learning in Textiles and Clothing, will begin to relocate from the lower level of LeBaron Hall to Morrill by late summer. Because all the pieces in the historical collection will be re-packaged prior to the move, the process is expected to take about a year. However, the center's first exhibit in its Morrill gallery will open Veishea week.

Morrill will be open beginning Monday, March 19. The three general university classrooms in Morrill will see occasional use beginning April 1, according to Kerry Dixon-Fox, facilities project manager. Classes won't be scheduled in the building until fall semester.

"The building looks really good," Dixon-Fox said. One of her favorite areas is the former chapel on the second floor, now home to a "brilliantly day-lit" 70-seat, two-tiered classroom. The balcony was removed from the space, but the wood trim has been restored and several decorative ceiling grills, once removed, have been put back in place.

Opening events

Morrill Hall will be rededicated at 11 a.m. Friday, April 20. The dedication ceremony will be held on central campus, just across the street from Morrill. Tours of Morrill will immediately follow the program.

University Museums also will host a free open house of the Christian Petersen Art Museum from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, March 22. The Farm House Museum and Brunnier Art Museum also are open during this time, and tours of the Art on Campus collection will leave from Morrill Hall on the hour between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. An opening reception for the new art museum on March 22 (7:30-10 p.m.) requires a ticket ($25 for University Museum members, $45 for non-members).

How far we've come

Completed in 1891, Morrill Hall had been unoccupied since 1998. In March 2002, Geoffroy conducted an informal poll to see what people favored: renovate the building or tear it down. Most were in favor of saving the building. The ISU Foundation then completed a feasibility survey among potential donors to gauge interest among alumni and friends in paying for a renovation. In August 2002, Geoffroy announced a private campaign to raise at least $9 million. Just over two years later, at Homecoming 2004, the ISU Foundation announced that fund raising was complete. Pledges came from more than 2,700 donors. Interior demolition began in May 2005.

Private gifts covered $7.4 million of the $10.28 million renovation cost. Other sources included:

  • $1.73 million from ISU Treasurer temporary investment earnings
  • $850,000 from state funds designated to improve ISU classrooms (there are three new general university classrooms in Morrill)
  • $300,000 from ISU utilities infrastructure fund.
Morrill Hall

The 70-seat general university classroom in what formerly was the chapel in Morrill Hall. The southeast turret stairwell leads to the back of the classroom. Photo by Bob Elbert.


Where you'll find them in Morrill Hall

Third floor: CELT offices, library and conference room

Second floor: CELT workshop room, two university classrooms

First floor: art museum gallery, textiles and clothing gallery, university classroom

Ground floor: art museum gallery, art museum storage, textiles and clothing collection storage, textiles conservation lab