The Iowa Memorial Union (IMU) has been the cornerstone of campus life since it opened in 1925.

Many notable visitors have roamed the IMU's halls, participated in diverse programming, and delivered lectures to the campus community. Students, faculty, staff, and community members visit the IMU to engage in student organization activities, enjoy a bit to eat with friends, study , or attend events. This timeline highlights the history of the IMU and its enduring legacy to campus life.

  • 1924 construction begins

    Unit 1 construction begins on the IMU and building plans arise from a three-acre barn plot. The first phase of the IMU includes the Main Lounge offices, and a snack bar.

  • students near fireplace

    The IMU was one of 16 college union buildings in the U.S. in 1925 and assumed the role as a service center on campus, offering Union Dining Service, housing and employment services and the Union Browsing Library.

  • orchestra concert in the iowa memorial union

    Unit II construction is completed and dedicated. Union activities involve games, dances, UI Band concerts, and homecoming. Additions include a radio broadcast room, soda fountain, and roof deck.

  • man speaking into microphone while people watch

    During the 1930s, the IMU transitions its focus to entertainment and the arts. The Silver Shadow, a non-alcoholic nightclub, opens within the Union Cafeteria and the Class of 1935 establishes a fund for the Mark Twain room.

  • view of the iowa memorial union

    IMU Corporation Board of Trustees gifts the IMU to the University of Iowa. The facility is used by the U.S. Army, during WWII to feed and train cadets.

  • waiters holding a large cake

    The IMU hosts a celebration for the centennial birthday of the University.

  • students bowling at the IMU

    Unit III construction is completed featuring billiards, bowling, snack bar, student lounges, and music rooms.

  • four people standing together after concert

    During the 1960s, the IMU serves as a platform for student activism, demonstration, and entertainment. In 1964, the Soapbox Soundoff begins as a stage for political commentary and the Thieves Market holds its first student art exhibition.

  • south entrance of the IMU

    In the 1970s, students and faculty from the art and music departments use the IMU as a creative, collaborative space.

  • maya angelou promotional poster

    In 1976, the University of Iowa Lecture Committee hosts best-selling author Maya Angelou in the IMU Main Lounge.

  • information center booth

    The 1988 renovation links the 1920s and 1955 additions of the building; adding the Terrace Lobby entrance on Madison street, Student Activities Center, and the University Bookstore.

  • students in line at the Union Cafe

    In the 1990s students continue to use the IMU as a center for entertainment, food, and relaxation between classes.

  • box office entrance at the IMU

    The IMU's University Box Office sold tickets to the latest firms, student organization events, movies, and campus concerts.

  • 2000 dance marathon dancer with child

    The IMU hosted academic, social, and multicultural events during the early 2000s. Events included a discussion with Gloria Steinem, a speech by Angela Davis, and each February, UI Dance Marathon.

  • students stacking sandbags outside the IMU

    The Iowa Flood of 2008 devastated the UI campus and closed the IMU from June through November. The building required an extensive flood mitigation process.

  • students watching fireworks outside the IMU

    The campus community enjoyed a variety of entertainment including, comedy, concerts, and fireworks!

  • two students sitting outside the IMU

    The IMU Flood Recovery and mitigation project is completed. The ground floor and new IMU River Terrace open to the public.

  • group of students playing outside the IMU

    The IMU remains an incubator for student ideas, programs, and initiatives. In 2018 it became home to the Food Pantry, Clothing Closet, and Collegiate Recovery Program. The IMU continues to host events focused on UI celebrations, student organization programs, and diversity, equity and inclusion.