The University of Iowa

Iowa's Arts Scene

The UI and Iowa City inspire creativity of all kinds—music, writing, visual arts, dance, theatre, film and video, you name it. No wonder our community is a frequent stop for artists from around the world. On any night of the week, you can catch an up-and-coming band, stop by a gallery opening, see a play, or hear a top author read.


The United Nations Educational, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) dubbed Iowa City a City of Literature, one of only five in the world. The university’s pioneering Writers’ Workshop—the very first of its kind—helped cement that reputation, as did Iowa’s unique International Writing Program. Today, young writers flock to Iowa to hone their craft and launch their careers.


The UI Division of Performing Arts presents more than 400 music, theatre, and dance events each year, from new work created by students to collaborations with established artists. Many performances are free of charge to UI students.

Iowa’s Hancher performing arts program brings top classical, jazz, and pop performers, Broadway shows, leading dance companies, and cutting-edge acts to town—a range of choices you usually find only in big cities. Students can attend the majority of Hancher’s events for $10. Students can always purchase two tickets at the student price and bring anyone they want with the second ticket. Tickets can be charged to your U-bill.

Visual Arts

Iowa’s renowned programs in studio arts—painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, design, and more—are rooted in deep respect for artistic expression. In fact, Iowa was the first university to accept creative work as the basis for graduate degrees in the arts.

The UI Museum of Art collection includes paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, and more, plus extensive African and pre-Columbian works. It’s one of the best university-owned collections in the country.

So Much More

From filmmaking to book arts to digital media, Iowa artists are pushing the boundaries of their fields. As a UI student, you’re invited to join them, whether creating your own work or just coming