Figge Art Museum Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Aug 4, 2020

To celebrate the Figge Art Museum’s 15th anniversary on Thursday, August 6th the museum on West 2nd Street in downtown Davenport, will have 15 days of events from August 6th to the 21st,  including performances, classes, behind-the-scenes tours, artist demonstrations, and more.

Architect David Chipperfield visited the Figge in 2015 to help celebrate the 10th anniversiary of its opening.
Credit WVIK News

The Figge opened on August 6th, 2005, as the re-named successor to the Davenport Museum of Art, which opened in 1928 as the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery. The new building was designed by British architect David Chipperfield, one of his first architectural commissions in the United States. The Figge got its name from the V.O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Foundation, which donated $13 million towards its $47-million construction cost.

In 2019, the Figge served over 86,000 people, including visitors from all 50 states and many foreign countries. Its exhibitions feature world-renowned artists, both traditional and contemporary, and its education programs serve 3,400 Quad Cities students who come for tours with their classes, and nearly 17,000 students who participate in the Big Picture Outreach Program in their classrooms.  

Figge Executive Director Michelle Hargrave, who started in the job last December, says one of her assignments when hired was to plan the 15th anniversary, which will have many virtual features due to Covid-19.

Figge Art Museum Executive Director Michelle Hargrave
Credit Figge Art Museum

“We had such a wonderful celebration for our 10th anniversary, and having reached another milestone, we thought this was a great opportunity to celebrate that as well. We wanted to make sure we could allow our community to come together and mark this anniversary in a safe way.”

The Figge re-opened in early June, and museum admission will be free during this anniversary period. The combination of in-person and virtual events have a variety of costs, with some free like virtual yoga throughout the 15 days. An art scavenger hunt for families, partnering with businesses in the Quad-Cities, also is free, with a chance to win a $50 gift card. Many events will cost $10 for members and $15 for non-members.

There will be an online auction of art and special experiences, and thanks to Tom and Jennifer Figge, any donation made between Aug. 6-21 will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000. Hargrave says the museum hopes to recover some of the financial losses experienced during the Covid shutdown, which closed the Figge for three months.

“We, like every museum and cultural organization, certainly suffered from the loss of earned revenue during our closure. And just even being open, we’re seeing reduced audiences, while many are happy to come back of course – some even citing us as the safest place in the Quad-Cities – there are many who have expressed reluctance to return to activities such as going to a museum, and probably won’t until there’s a vaccine.”

“This is not only an opportunity to celebrate our 15 th anniversary and celebrate our community, we of course are also hoping to raise some much-needed operating funds through it.”

 With the museum successfully paying off the $3-million building debt in  May, the 15 days of events will culminate with a live mortgage burning ceremony on Aug. 21, at an undisclosed location, including a Native American blessing.

The Bechtel Trusts awarded the Figge a $1-million challenge grant in December 2015 payable over five years, requiring the museum to match the grant 2 to 1, or $2 million. Thanks to the support of donors and community partners, including the Regional Development Authority, Scott County Regional Authority, Bechtel Trusts, John Deere Foundation and Quad City Bank & Trust, the Figge secured matching funds and retired the debt.

For more information on the anniversary events, visit figgeartmuseum.org.