History of the
Waterloo Center for the Arts


Arts programming began in 1922 under the direction of the Waterloo Recreation Commission. A temporary facility housed programs from 1947 to 1966 when programming was moved into a new Recreation and Arts facility. At first the name of Waterloo Municipal Galleries and later Waterloo Museum of Art incorporated all arts programs under the Recreation and Arts Commission. In December of l998, that Commission was dissolved; the new Cultural and Arts Commission formed and determined advisory by city ordinance. At that time, the Recreation and Arts Center building was rededicated as the Waterloo Center for the Arts. This has been an exciting change for the arts in this community. The Center for the Arts houses not only the Center’s arts programs, but also the Waterloo Community Playhouse, Black Hawk Children’s Theatre, Waterloo Municipal Band, Metropolitan Chorale, and serves as the meeting, presentation and performance facilities for approximately 50 other community and cultural organizations.


1922-47
Programs held in the parks throughout the community

1947
Art exhibits began in the Recreation and Arts facility then housed in the old Washington School and the first Arts Coordinator was hired to direct the Art Department

1961
Permanent Collection started with the gift of Marvin Cone’s I Have Loved the Unloved from the Junior League - starting the Midwest collection

1966
New Recreation and Arts Center opened

1966
Friends of the Art Center started

1967
Cultural Explorations program started for the schools which utilized art programs to integrate schools

1968
Junior Art Gallery started through a partnership between Junior League (then the Junior Service League), the schools and the Waterloo Recreation and Arts Commission and was located in the West Wing basement

1970
Annual Craft Sale started became Holiday Arts Festival in 2001

1976
Workshop Wing/East Wing opened with Forsberg Riverside Galleries, the Gift Store, Library, classrooms, theatre workshop, Junior Art Gallery and collection storage

1977
Haitian collection established by Dr. and Mrs. F. Harold Reuling. Broadened to Caribbean in l984 by Ute Stebich

1982
Raymond T. Forsberg scholarship started.

1985
Northeast Iowa Print Club started in cooperation with UNI Art Dept

1990
Permanent Collection Galleries/Court Theater Wing opened

1990
Name of Waterloo Museum of Art was adopted to incorporate the Recreation and Arts Commission’s art department-exhibits, programs, classes/workshops, collection, shop, galleries, and Junior Art Gallery

1993
Rooftop Jazz and Blues program started

1994
School program expanded to include all Waterloo Public School students K-8 grades

1994
City Hall Gallery started with election of Mayor John Rooff

1995
Loft Gallery was established on the 2nd level/East Wing

1996
Youth Pavilion capitol campaign started

1998
WRAC dissolved, Cultural and Arts Commission formed, Sports Department joined Leisure Services Commission

1998
Staff trip to Haiti for research and acquisition

1999
Building rededicated as Waterloo Center for the Arts; Waterloo Museum of Art name dropped to assure stronger identity for Waterloo Center for the Arts.

1999
Metropolitan Chorale and Municipal Band moved into building

1999
Hope Martin Theatre renovated (carpet, paint, seats), Center also redecorated—all with bond funds

1999
Marilyn S. Hurley scholarship program started

2000
Riverfront area designated as Riverwalk Sculpture Plaza

2000
Student/Emerging Gallery started in West Wing of Center

2000
Art at the Airport program started

2001
Public Art Committee established and long-range plan adopted

2001
Accreditation process started for the Center

2001
Commission expanded from seven to eleven members

2001
First phase of a multi-phased public art project for downtown completed (set of murals by artist Paco Rosic on Morris Printing building) Second phase was begun (mosaic murals with a Sullivan theme for Sullivan Center by artist, Concetta Morales)

2002
Second public art project completed—a set of commemorative murals in honor of the Sullivan brothers was installed in the Sullivan Center.

2002
A significant gift from the Stebich family led to the establishment of an International Folk Art Collection

2003
ArtiGras event started

2003
LOUD Consortium - Young adults organization started

2003
Playing with Fire - Ceramics group started

2003
Mural banners installed in 218 corridor by artists Chawne Paige and Osie Johnson, public art project for Lincoln Park initiated

2003
Accreditation self-study completed and submitted

2004
Second phase of capital campaign to build the Youth Pavilion started

2004
WCA became an affiliate member of Silos and Smokestacks

2004
Four Public Art projects were dedicated as part of a progressive event. These included Cityscape by artist Jim Benedict located between 4th & 5th Streets at Lafayette; Quill a sculpture by Marc Moulton installed in Lincoln Park; Equation to Intimacy, a sculpture on WCA’s Riverwalk Sculpture Plaza by Marie Truscott; and a Lou Henry Hoover memorial sculpture by John Jago which was erected by the Church Row Neighborhood Association

2004
Beer/wine license obtained to increase service to patrons

2004
Secured climate-controlled truck to transport art

2005
Final JAG exhibition in basement space closes permanently

2005
Two works were purchased for the collection in memory of Jacob Lee Hawkenson: a lithograph by Grant Wood entitled Tree Planting Group; and Prairie Oasis, a sculptural bench by Bounnak Thammavong

2005
Contracted with InterActive Group from Cleveland to design JAG 1, 2

2005
Completed capital campaign for 4.9 million dollars and broke ground on 39,000 sq ft Youth Pavilion addition in October

2006
Completed 3-E campaign for exhibit, endowment, equipment raised 1.4 million dollars

2006
Received major gift to the Haitian art collection from Janet Feldman

2006
Received naming gift for Youth Pavilion from Dale and Dianne Phelps

2006
Began a cooperative marketing effort with ME & V, Mudd and Hellman for the Youth Pavilion

2006
Awarded public art commission to Richard Thomas -began design process

2006
Presented first downtown public art sculpture exhibit.

2006
Received naming gift for the Youth Pavilion from Dianne & Dale Phelps

2007
Worked on interior plans for the Youth Pavilion

2007
Added Wi-Fi Internet access as an added service for patrons

2008
Phelps Youth Pavilion opens to schools in February for tours and to the public in April.

2008
Phelps Youth Pavilion adds 39,000 square feet of space to the WCA — which includes McElroy Junior Art Galleries I, II, and III, Ceramics, Visual Arts and Digital Arts Studios, Arts Workshop, a storefront Gift Store, Art House Café, Reuling Feldman Gallery, collection prep, storage, management space.

2008
Started CultureFest in partnership with Waterloo Community Schools

2008
Started daily lunches, dinner theatre and catering service in Art House Café

2008
Hosted the national Haitian Art Society annual conference.

2008
Celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Haitian collection with an exhibition of the collection in every gallery throughout the building, plus smaller installations at participating museums in the area.

2008
Completed Phase I of Collection Storage furnishings.

2009
Second trip to Mexico to purchase artwork for Mexican Folk Art collection, visited the states of Guerrero and Mexico.

2009
Kent Shankle curated exhibition of the work of Hector Hyppolite which opened at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the annual National Haitian Art Society Conference also organized and presented by Cammie Scully and Kent Shankle, co-directors of the Society.

2009
Phelps Pavilion celebrated its first birthday in April with special activities all weekend.

2009
Built new workshop so exhibits can be instructed in-house.

2009
Curated an important Haitian art exhibition that featured master artist Hector Hyppolite. The exhibit was mounted at: the Art Museum of Americas in Washington D.C., WCA’s galleries and the Ramapo College Art Galleries in Mahwah, New Jersey

2009
Completed the roof and chiller projects and constructed a new parking lot

2009
Conducted our first annual campaign

2009
Hosted the annual Iowa Museum Association conference

2009
Organized the annual National Haitian Art Conference held in Washington, D.C.

2009
Broke ground on RiverLoop and lower plaza space next to building

2009
Third collection research and buying trip to Mexico—visited the craft villages of Oaxaca

2009
Hosted 1st Breakfast with Santa event

2010
Hosted new Winter Music Series featuring local bands

2010
Spring Break Dollar Days, a partnership to celebrate RJ McElroy’s 100th birthday

2010
Hosted 1st Breakfast with the Easter Bunny event

2010
Two new public art projects completed, installed and dedicated in downtown Waterloo

- Prairie Crossings by artist Chawne Paige

- Art & Environment: Where We Gather by artists Joan Webster-Vore, Scott Hudson, Pam Echeverria and Carol Macomber.

2010
Established Haiti Quake Relief Fund to support those affected by Haiti’s devastating earthquake. The Center, Friends of the Art Center and Haitian Art Society facilitated donations and hosted a fundraising event where funds were donated to Save the Children, Water Missions International, CARE, and Doctors Without Borders. The WCA also received national media attention for its connection to Haitian artists and because it holds the largest public collection of Haitian artwork in the US.

2010
Renovated the west wing office area to create a public lounge

2010
Developed new partnerships with Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design resulting in a major exhibition of Haitian artwork

2010
Moved from having the largest public collection of Haitian artwork in the United States to now holding the largest collection in the world

2011
Commissioned Steve Gerberich to create a memorial sculpture in honor of Dr. Dale Phelps

2010
Dan Ankrum became the new contractor for the ArtHouse Café

2011
Began an updated lighting project for the Schoitz Rooms, new west wing lounge, etc

2011
Visited the Bahamas on a research and development trip to plan an upcoming exhibition and symposium entitled Master Artists of the Bahamas

2011
Started an Urban Gallery program this spring in three downtown storefront locations

2011
Reached over $100,000 revenue in the Phelps Youth Pavilion

2011
November - The Phelps Youth Pavilion celebrated its 100,000 visitor!

2012
Presented Master Artists of the Bahamas Exhibition and Symposium. Exhibition is currently touring

2012
Completed doors and windows replacement project for Schoitz Rooms and West Wing

2012
Conducted research and collection acquisition trip to Oaxaca

2012
Opened/dedicated the RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Arts Mall and Mark's Park

2012
Developed the RiverLoop Association, Inc. to manage the RiverLoop Amphitheatre, Arts Mall, Mark's Park and Expo Plaza

2012
Completed installation of collection storage furnishings

2012
Presented Mini Masters: A Nine Hole Course in Art in McElroy Junior Art Gallery III