In June 2019 the University of Iowa announced that the University Libraries had been chosen as the new home of the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, the most comprehensive such collection in the world. To celebrate the opening of this important collection to the public and to introduce Iowans and the University community to the vast and impressive range of resources held in the Sackner Archive, from artists’ books to reference works to large-scale works of visual poetry, an inaugural exhibition featuring a few highlights from the collection held in the Main Library Gallery from August 24 – December 18, 2020.

Besides demonstrating the remarkable artistry and diversity of some of the most significant poet-artists of the past hundred years, the exhibition will bring to light some of the many ways the new collection can support teaching and research at the University.

Contact Sackner Archive Sackner Exhibit Guide (PDF)


View the Sackner Archive virtual exhibit


See the complete Sackner Archive LibGuide for additional information and resources related to the exhibition.

View the full length documentary about Marvin and Ruth Sackner by Sara Sackner.

Photo of Dr. Marvin Sackner

Dr. Marvin Sackner

It is with profound sorrow that we note the passing of Dr. Marvin Sackner on Tuesday, September 29 at age 88, just a few weeks after the opening of this exhibition. For those of us at Iowa, Dr. Sackner will be forever remembered for selecting the University Libraries as the permanent home of his world-renowned collection of concrete and visual poetry; but as his obituary shows, his memory will be treasured for his countless contributions in many areas—by his numerous patients, by members of the medical profession, by artists, art historians, and literary scholars around the world, and most of all by his beloved family.

This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Ruth and Marvin Sackner.


Read the University of Iowa Libraries tribute to Dr. Sackner.

Sackner Archive Curator Highlights


Curator Highlight with Timothy Shipe: Merz, Schwitters, Art

Curator Highlight with Peter Balestrieri: Hanne Darboven’s Mathematical Art

Curator Highlight with Margaret Gamm: Building a ‘Home Sweet Museum’

Samples from the Sackner Collection

The Wink, The Kiss, The Slap by Susan Grant

She’s Not Ugly But by Francis Hamilton

Recall of the Soul by Zena Zipporah

Man from Red by Dmitry Babenko

Financial support for this exhibition was generously provided by the Friends of the University of Iowa Libraries. Special thanks to Ruth and Marvin Sackner, Sara Sackner, and Amanda Keeley for their long years of work with and love for this Archive, as well as their help with this exhibit. Thank you to the staff and students in Special Collections and Conservation & Preservation, who continue putting in an incredible amount of work to make the Archive available to the public.

Exhibition Curation
Timothy Shipe, Peter Balestrieri, Margaret Gamm

Preparation & Installation
Giselle Simón, Bill Voss

Kalmia Strong

Exhibition Coordination
Sara J. Pinkham

Exhibition Technology
Chris Clark, Will Brown

Publicity & Website
Jennifer Masada, Sara J. Pinkham, Ken Clinkenbeard

Additional Assistance
Rich Dana, Beth Stone, Diane Dias De Fazio