University of Iowa officials said Friday they will appeal a regional FEMA decision that the UI Museum of Art is ineligible for replacement funding.
The appeal will be made to Iowa Homeland Security and submitted to FEMA headquarters in Washington D.C. in the near future.
UI General Counsel Carroll Reasoner said in a statement Friday the disagreement stems from differing interpretations of FEMA rules, a matter she hopes can be resolved in the UI’s favor on appeal to FEMA headquarters.
“The building might be able to function as some sort of a museum but it has always been a fine art museum and it would be irresponsible and irrational to put the university’s valuable fine art collection in a facility in the revised flood plain where it would be at risk and not be able to be insured for some reasonable amount,” Reasoner said in a statement Friday.
The university does not believe the statute requires proving a negative—basically, that insurance is impossible—and will appeal, Reasoner said.
After the 2008 flood, FEMA ruled that the UI Museum of Art did not sustain enough damage to qualify for replacement funding. Instead, FEMA would help pay to repair the museum building, but not to replace it elsewhere. The UI appealed the decision, arguing the museum was ruined, since art cannot be returned for insurance reasons.
While reviewing the UI’s appeal of the denial, FEMA requested the UI obtain quotes from other fine art insurers. Four of the five companies which responded said they would not insure art in the existing facility. The other firm was non-committal, UI officials reported.
In its denial letter, FEMA stated that while it “understands it may be difficult to obtain insurance, we are not convinced insuring the fine art collection is impossible.”
A new facility is estimated to cost between $40 million and $50 million, officials have said.
The UI Museum of Art was built in 1969 and was one of more than a dozen campus facilities damaged in the floods. The Museum has displayed portions of its collection at the UIMA@IMU in the Iowa Memorial Union, and the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.