(December 18, 1907 - April 20, 2004)
Neva Petersen was a founding cultural force and visionary for preserving, restoring and creating what transformed into the University Museums at Iowa State University.
The daughter of William T. and Maude (Spencer) Petersen, Neva Petersen was born in 1907 in Charter Oak, Iowa. She graduated from Newton Senior High School in 1926 and received a bachelor's degree in applied art from the home economics department at Iowa State College (now University) in 1930. She received a master's degree from ISC in 1948, and taught several years in public schools and at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis before returning to Iowa State. At Iowa State, she was a professor of applied art, teaching interior design, history of furniture and ornament, and art history from 1952 until her retirement in 1975, when she was named professor emeritus.
Working with Carl Hamilton, Vice President for Information and Development, Petersen was instrumental in the interior restoration (1971-1976) of the historic Farm House, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964. In anticipation of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, Petersen continued work on the Farm House restoration and expanded her retirement commitment to ISU in 1973 by undertaking the unpacking and inventory of the newly received extensive decorative arts collection from Ann Brunnier, which became part of the Henry J. Brunnier Galleries (now Brunnier Art Museum), Scheman Building, Iowa State Center.
Neva Petersen was a founding cultural force and visionary for preserving, restoring and creating what transformed into the University Museums at Iowa State University. Petersen was a founding member of the Friends of the University Museums and a founding member of the University Museums’ Curators Associates at Iowa State.
Posthumously her estate created the Neva M. Petersen Gallery of Visual Literacy and Learning in the Christian Petersen Art Museum, Morrill Hall. She was a member of ISU Foundation’s Order of the Knoll, a member of the Iowa State Art Club, and was the faculty advisor for many VEISHEA Celebrations.
Neva Maurine Petersen Papers: RS 26/2/56. University Archives, Iowa State University Library