Go On A Date At The Stanley Museum

Men's Dating

Take Your Date to The Stanley Museum of Art at the University of Iowa

Sheena Holt

Written by: Sheena Holt

Sheena Holt

Sheena Holt comes to DatingAdvice with a BA in English and creative writing. Sheena's work has appeared in numerous literary and culture publications, including Lithium Magazine. Her work as an editor and writer has taught her a lot about the ins and outs of dating in the 21st century. As Managing Editor for DatingAdvice.com, she has interviewed hundreds of dating professionals and relationship experts. Sheena also enjoys writing long-form fiction in her spare time to keep her storytelling skills sharp.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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The Short Version: Many singles want to find an exciting spot for dates, and in artsy Iowa City, there are plenty of interesting and unique options, most notably the The Stanley Museum of Art. The museum holds plenty of artworks and activities that make it a date spot anyone can enjoy.

Despite its small size, Iowa City is one of the best cities in the United States for the arts. The city boasts a long history of being a mecca for writers, poets, and artists alike. The art scene is a great place to look when residents are trying to find a unique activity in town for a date night. 

The Stanley Museum of Art at the University of Iowa is an artsy option for anyone trying to find a good date spot in Iowa City. The beautiful museum offers a space for visitors to learn about art, admire the collection, and find community on the University of Iowa’s campus.

“The new building is a work of art, a beautiful, unique structure that complements the museum’s collections with its design and composition,” Elizabeth Wallace, Manager of Communications for the museum, told us. “Features include two outdoor terraces, a magnificent, light-filled staircase, and a stunning three-story lightwell. The scale of the galleries feels both roomy and intimate at the same time.”

Stanley Museum of Art
The Stanley Museum of Art’s new building has over 16,500 square feet of exhibition space.

The museum is a fantastic place for University of Iowa students and locals to go on creative and exciting dates. One proposal even took place on the museum’s front steps!

Elizabeth told us the collection serves as a library of visual culture for the campus and the larger community. It includes significant holdings of African art, abstract expressionism, works on paper, textiles, ceramics, and paintings by well-known modern artists, including Pollock, Beckmann, Miró, and Motherwell.

“Art can be a powerful way for people to examine the human experience, history, science, languages, and cultures, current social issues, and more,” Elizabeth said.

The Stanley Museum of Art is run by the university, and it has an extensive and comprehensive collection for students and the public to enjoy. The museum, which is beautifully curated, has a large community to keep it thriving and is an essential component of the rich local art scene.

Whether you and your partner are artists or casual viewers, the Stanley Museum of Art is a wonderful place to connect and appreciate world-class art in the heart of Iowa City.

Go On a Themed Tour

The Stanley Museum of Art team is dedicated to ensuring that all visitors have the most enriching experience possible when they come to view the museum’s collections. That’s why they have created myriad guided tour options for museum patrons to appreciate different facets of the gallery’s collections. While the tours require at least seven participants, they’re an excellent option for a trip to the museum with your other couple friends.

Mwanangana (figure of a chief). The Stanley Collection of African Art, 19th century.

The museum features the Color Tour, which focuses on the significance of particular hues across time and cultures. The featured color — currently red — changes periodically. They also have a Social Justice Tour, focusing on artists, activism, and equality.

Until August 2023, The Stanley Museum of Art is displaying an exciting video exhibit: “Crosscurrents in Time: A Video Trilogy by Aline Motta.” The series deals with themes of slavery, folk wisdom, cosmology, and more.

No matter your interests or those of your partner, you can undoubtedly find a tour option that fits both of your academic and artistic interests. Due to light sensitivity, many of the textiles and works on paper have to be rotated out on a regular basis so they can rest. No matter when you go or how frequently you visit, you’ll be able to find something new and exciting to see.

Planning out the tour you’re attending is a great way to show your partner how much effort you’re willing to put into making sure they have a great time.

On an early date in your relationship, you may not want to spend all your time with your partner in a large group. The Stanley Museum of Art has excellent activity options for those who would rather have a self-guided experience. Elizabeth recommends checking out the museum scavenger hunt or self-guided tours from the front desk. Both are great options for couples looking to truly appreciate the museum’s art while still bonding.

Always Free & Accessible to Everyone

Dating can get pricey, whether you’re in school or not. Going out to bars, restaurants, and concerts adds up fast. And that’s not even counting the makeup or clothes you may invest in to look your best. For many people, dating is a high cost in their regular expenses.

Thoughtful dates don’t need to be pricey. Everyone enjoys a fancy dinner now and then. But plenty of affordable date options will give you and your date a great time on any budget. It really is the thought that counts, and taking your partner to the Stanley Museum of Art is a thoughtful choice they’re sure to appreciate. 

Not only is the Stanley Museum of Art affordable, it’s free for everyone, not only University of Iowa students. “The Stanley Museum of Art is ALWAYS free and open to all,” Elizabeth said. “We believe that art is for everyone and that the Stanley is for everyone.”

“Surrounding” (2022) at the Stanley Museum of Art, University of Iowa. ©Odili Donald Odita. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery.

Because it’s such an accessible and convenient date option, one might think the museum has limited offerings. But that is certainly not the case. Elizabeth told us about a major exhibit coming up this year. “The inaugural exhibition of the museum, ‘Homecoming,’ reintroduces audiences to one of the most important university-owned art collections in the United States, one that continues to draw worldwide attention,” Elizabeth said. 

“Homecoming” pulls from the Stanley’s holdings of nearly 18,000 objects, displaying more than 600 works of art. The exhibition includes well-known and beloved works from the Stanley’s collection alongside new acquisitions, strategic loans, and other rare artworks that have seldom been shown. The exhibit will stay up until July 2025, so couples have some time to visit before it goes away.

With globally significant exhibits like “Homecoming,” the Stanley Museum has distinguished itself as a worthwhile destination for any art lover. Conveniently, it also happens to be free.

The Stanley Museum of Art is the Ideal Creative Date Spot

Trying to come up with new date ideas can get tricky, whether you want to mix it up for your long-term partner or avoid being a known regular at your preferred first-date spot. With countless works in its exhibits, the Stanley Museum of Art is a beautiful place to spend the day with your partner.

“Visiting the Stanley is a good low-stakes (and free!) way to spend time with someone as you’re getting to know them,” Allie Tokarski, Assistant Curator of Student Engagement at the museum, told us. “It’s the perfect middle ground between going to a movie together and going to dinner—you have something to focus on that isn’t each other if you’re feeling shy, but there is still the opportunity to connect and converse and explore together.”

The Stanley Museum of Art offers a lively experience you can share with your partner no matter the season. The Stanley Museum is a great place to get to know your date in the heat of summer or the cold of an Iowa winter.

“Whether you are having a first date or a date with your long-time boo, visiting an art museum is a great alternative to grabbing coffee or dinner,” Elizabeth told us. “Art is an international language, one that everyone can understand. Art museums are full of ideas and stories, all of which are good conversation starters.” 

Anyone can connect through art. Whether it’s your first date or your 100th date, you’ll be able to find some common ground at the Stanley Museum of Art.

“Viewing and absorbing art invites questions about what you are seeing, feeling, and thinking, which can lead to a deeper understanding of the person who is seeing, feeling, and thinking alongside you,” Elizabeth said. 

Learning about their loftier ideas and values can be very meaningful as you get to know your date. It’s essential to learn the basic facts of their life — family structure, work, hobbies, and education — but it’s also nice to know what they believe or value aesthetically. If you end up decorating a house together one day, you probably want to share a taste in art!