Iowa woman restores Univ. of Iowa presidents’ portraits dating back to 1800s

Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 5:50 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) -The Presidential Portrait Gallery at the University has been on display since the 1990s, but was only just recently completed with all but one of the school’s past presidents.

Sara Boesen’s passion for conserving art lead her to help the University of Iowa with their project on history.

Several presidential portraits had been damaged over time and needed a steady and skilled hand to restore them.

“I provided estimates as well as a detailed report of each portrait outline condition and what I would do to address those condition issues,” Boesen told TV-9.

She restored two: Josiah Little Pickard’s portrait, who was the president from 1878–1887. And Oliver M. Spencer’s portrait who was president from 1862-1867 whose portrait required a bit more attention to detail.

“There were large tears mostly through the face area which also had resulted in significant loss to the facial features,” said Boesen.

John Culshaw, who has been the Jack B. King University Librarian since 2013, says these restoration efforts are a priority for the school.

“The gallery was put together to not only share the portraits of our past presidents, but also add some context about the time of each presidential administration,” said Culshaw.

And now that the collection is complete, it’s on display for everyone on the fifth floor of the library.

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