Great universities have great museums.

Liz Crooks

From Pentacrest Museums Director Liz Crooks

For the Pentacrest Museums, 2022 was marked by the alignment of several things: an advantageous administrative move, remarkable campus and community connections, successful in-person programming, an overarching theme of “mindfulness in museums,” a big fundraising campaign, and an even bigger amount of joy and gratitude. 

I invite you to join us in a look back at a year we're quite proud of in two museums we hope you call yours.


Our Visitor Services Department works with our campus and the public to schedule class visits and tours, manage our student docents, and keep our galleries accessible to guests. 

  • Total visitors: 37,083
    • Still below our average pre-pandemic visitor numbers, we more than doubled our attendance from 2021. Considering the temporary construction closure of one of our main entrances over the summer, we're quite pleased.
    • Note: due to multiple entrances in Macbride Hall, data recorded for the Museum of Natural History indicates only guests entering the east entrance to Iowa Hall (we estimate this to be less than half of our total guests).
  • Number of guided gallery tours: 154
    • These are tours given by student docents employed by the Pentacrest Museums. It is our honor to connect with guests this way and to give our students the opportunity to teach.
  • Total number of guests on a guided gallery tour: 4,952
  • Number of college class visits to galleries: 100
    • 61/100 were self-guided visits, which means an instructor used our exhibitions to teach their own curriculum.

Our Education Department works to create interactive programming to support connectivity, engagement, and learning in museum spaces. 

  • Total number of programs: 64
    • In-person: 36
    • Virtual: 28
  • Total number of program participants: 1,982
    • In-person: 1,263
    • Virtual: 719
    • Note: We reached participants from US 27 states and beyond with guests from all around the world including: Israel, Canada, Colombia, and Germany.

Our Events staff create revenue for our free-admission museums by offering excellence as a venue for special events (weddings, lectures, conferences, etc.) in our historic spaces.

  • Total events: 54
    • Weddings: 4
    • Receptions: 21
    • Community events: 4
    • Lectures: 13
    • Conferences: 3
    • UI ceremonies/graduations: 12

Our Communications staff manages messaging, branding, social media, websites, signage, and more. They promote our services and keep folks in the know, prioritizing access.

A combination of more strategic content and new types of media led to an increase by all measures on our social channels, with most success on Instagram with 18-24 year olds.

  • Social media posts across all channels: 1,266 (↑ 472)
  • Social media post reach across all channels: 590,407 (↑ 346K)
  • New fans and followers across all channels: 939 (414)
  • Most successful post:

Our first full year with all 3 updated, functioning websites and targeted marketing drove web traffic:

  • Total number of web users who visited our websites: 58,037 ( 18.68%)
  • Percentage of new web users: 48,396 
  • Total number of webpages visited on our websites: 138,427 ( 18.79%)

Effective communications and fresh websites led to more general google web searches and access

  • Google business profiles viewed: 411,382 times
    • 167,580 times via maps
    • 243,443 times via google searches
    • 6,987 searches resulted in customers using directions
    • 6,612 searches resulted in webpage traffic, beyond hours and location

Our Collections team cares for our specimens and objects, keeps them accessible to classes and researchers both on and off campus, and holds the incredible responsibility of preserving our history.

  • Number of newly accessioned items: 572
  • Number of class visits to collections spaces or our museum lab: 28
  • Number of students on class visits to collections spaces or our lab: 496
  • Number of collections items loaned: 2,176 in 28 total loans
  • Online collections access:
    • Our collections data appeared in 4,325,229,921 searches
    • Our collections records were downloaded 647,104 times
    • Our collections records were citated in published research 237 times

Our museums are proud to host student employment positions for many UI students each year and additional opportunities for interns and volunteers. 

  • Total number of students employed (museum docents and staff assistants): 37
  • Total number of for-credit internships: 17
  • Total number of museum volunteers: 6 (320.8 hours)
  • Members of the Pentacrest Museums Student Advisory Board: 15
Diversity of Life exhibits


Holistic Well-Being with Museum Programming

As we moved forward from years impacted by COVID-closures, we paused to take stock of where we were as a campus and community. We reflected deeply on what we have to offer to meet the present needs of our students, staff, faculty, and community members. A shifted perspective in our potential led us to create opportunities and programming with mindfulness, connectivity, and inclusivity in mind.

Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Museums you LOVE

Our museums are filled with opportunities to elevate the high-quality teaching that happens on our campus. We foster dynamic, hands-on exploration and educational experiences that empower our educators to achieve their teaching goals and help our students achieve their aspirations.

A Welcoming and Inclusive Environment at YOUR Museums

It takes a commitment from each of us to cultivate a more respectful, inclusive environment on our campus. This year we had difficult conversations with the goal of growth. We listened, we learned, and we got to work. From welcoming new voices to our programming to expanding access in our spaces, we put inclusivity at the top of our list.

Museums Support Innovative Research and Creative Discovery

To advance the success of UI scholars, researchers, and artists, we support a culture of creativity, innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration. With collaborative community programming, broader impacts opportunities, and historic research collections, we increase involvement of our students at all levels in research, creative work, and engagement.

Museums Make Transformative Societal Impacts

We join greater campus efforts to expand impact on local and regional communities, the state of Iowa, and the world by leveraging areas of distinction, resources, and the collective talents of our campus community. Through public exhibitions, support of local schools and businesses, and even representation at international conferences, we expand opportunities and increase access.


2022 kicked off a major fundraising campaign to restore the Laysan Island Cyclorama. It's been an incredible team effort to save it.

Donations to the Laysan Island Cyclorama fund: $296,191

  • 21 gifts from 8 states
  • 6 gifts of $5,000+
  • 2 major gift commitments
  • $900 in online gifts
  • $1,000 in gift shop sales rounded-up
Laysan Island Cyclorama

Best-performing publication:

In May, Iowa Magazine published A Paradise Not Yet Lost on the history of the Laysan Island Cyclorama exhibition and the need for restoration. Distributed in over 65,000 printed magazines and accessed online even more, it was our highest performing publication in 2022, kicking off a major fundraising campaign.

Iowa Mag story

Most notable research:

In November, Dr. Holmes Semken and a team of others published esteemed research on the Tarkio Valley Sloths that were recovered, studied, and preserved at the University of Iowa. Twenty years after the initial discovery, this now-published research is considered the most comprehensive to date on the species.

Paleontology  Journal


Our administrative move from the Office of the Vice President for Research to the Office of the Provost created impactful changes behind the scenes.

  • Closer alignment with campus peers
  • Bolstered reach to students
  • Facilitated campus and community connections
Annual Report 2022
We extend heartfelt gratitude to all of our campus and community partners, supporters, and volunteers. Whether you helped with the development of a program or exhibition, hosted a special event here, donated to our efforts with time or money, or supported the efforts of our team, we thank you.

Special Thanks

  • Andrew Dahl, University Arborist, for his support and dedication to our natural spaces on campus, which contributed to the development and delivery of the Tree Tour experience.  

  • Trevor Viohl, class of 2022, in their extended volunteer research and support to Education in the development of the Tree Tour experience.

  • The liveWELL team for all their advocacy and collaboration to engage our campus in support of health and workplace wellness both through the Tree Tour experience and liveWELL Scavenger Hunt. 

  • Human Resources, for inviting us to be part of Discover Your University programming, creating even greater opportunities for visibility and engagement with our museums.

  • International Programs, for their collaboration in training our docents to leading specially guided educational experiences for young people visiting the Anne Frank exhibit, Let Me Be Myself

  • Our entire team of dedicated student staff employees, who serve as ambassadors to our museums. We are proud and thankful for these students, who are gaining many desired job skills while serving our mission.  

  • UIReach, for their collaboration with us to provide workforce development opportunities for the UI Reach student community and support our own museum efforts to expand access and engagement for all.  

  • Mariceliz Pagan Gomez, for her contributions and expertise as a professional artist and MFA student helping to lead a studio program for the Art & Write Night program. 

  • Keith Buckman, for completing 2650 hours of volunteer service spanning ten years.

  • Jack Tamesia, for his research and amazing storytelling in the published piece on Laysan Island in Iowa Magazine.

  • Dr. Holmes Semken, Tiffany Adrain, and Sarah Horgen, for their dedication to the Museum of Natural History and the Tarkio Valley Sloth research.

  • Travis Foss, for his dedication to the Laysan Island Cyclorama fund campaign.

And so many others in areas all around campus and across our community:

  • University of Iowa Office of the President
  • Office of the Provost
  • Office of the Vice President for Research
  • Office of Strategic Communications
  • Iowa Magazine
  • Center for Advancement
  • International Programs
  • Student Life
  • Art Department
  • Cultural Centers
  • Human Resources- liveWELL
  • Facilities Management
  • Office of Sustainability
  • DEAI-Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence
  • Division of World Languages, Literature, and Cultures
  • UIReach
  • Latinx Council
  • Native American Council
  • UI Libraries
  • Stanley Museum of Art
  • Office of the State Archaeologist
  • Office of Teaching and Learning
  • Department of Family Medicine
  • Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences 
  • Anthropology Department
  • Paleontology Department
  • Anne Frank House Amsterdam
  • Tippie College of Business
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • UI Pride Alliance Center
  • University of Iowa Student Government and Graduate Student Government
  • University of Iowa Lecture Committee
  • Public Policy Center
  • UI Office of the Provost
  • Iowa PBS
  • Molecular Biology Department
  • American Association for Anatomy
  • Prairie Lights Bookstore 
  • Iowa City Downtown District
  • Night Mayor Iowa City
  • Kirkwood Community College
Winter Birds
2022 Annual Report