Directory   |   Workday   |   Access+   |   CyBox   |   Privacy Policy

Archived News

ISU graduate student’s thesis project includes tours of rural Gilbert farmhouse

April 01, 2015

Tours will begin in the oldest part of the farmhouse, built in the late 1880s.
Visitors will witness signs of decay, including a leaky roof and peeling paint.


AMES, Iowa — An Iowa State University integrated visual arts graduate student has transformed a vacant two-story farmhouse near Gilbert into a temporary exhibition site for her final Master of Fine Arts thesis project.

Built in the late 1880s, the house was expanded and remodeled by multiple generations of the Romsey family through the 1970s, and remained a residence until 2013 when the original owner's grandson married and moved out. Like many buildings left unoccupied, the home has suffered damage and "if no one lives in it, it will just crumble," said Lyndsay Nissen, who will receive her MFA from Iowa State in May.

Nissen—an Ames artist who often deals with issues of refuse and decay as well as Regionalist principles of conservation and place and "making work about where you're from and what you know"—will offer her interpretation of current social, political and economic issues in Iowa through the historical lens of this quintessential rural farmstead, she said.

In "MetaStory: A Present Iowa Past," Nissen has constructed a fictional tale based on the Romsey family's memories and stories and the history of the farmhouse. Guides will lead guests on interactive tours that include installations, artifacts and a "time warp" from one era to another.

"The oldest part of the house has no electrical outlets. As you travel through the spaces, things become more familiar and up to date—you're traveling through time as you walk through the house," Nissen said. "Rather than try to clean up the areas that are beginning to fall apart, I've kept that as evidence of time and deterioration."

Nissen developed the tour idea because "when you go on historical house tours you can't really experience what it was like to live there; you can't touch anything, and rooms are roped off so you're kept separate," she said. "I wanted people to be able to interact and be engaged and discover the hidden narratives beyond the one the guides are sharing."

Tour Dates
Tours will take place over two weekends in April:
•    Friday, April 10, at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
•    Saturday, April 11, at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and midnight
•    Saturday, April 18, at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
•    Sunday, April 19, at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Parking is available on site at the farm, 16505 US Highway 69, Gilbert, about a quarter-mile north of Casey’s. Tours are free and open to the public; visitors are encouraged to RSVP to for a specific tour date and time. Refreshments and entertainment will be provided.

Additional information about Nissen's thesis project is available at

Lyndsay Nissen, Integrated Visual Arts, (515) 231-2907,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,