In Ames, the "keys to the city" are now attached to public pianos thanks to one Iowa State University graduate student. Two Ames parks will be the host sites for public pianos this summer in an effort to enhance the visual and music opportunities around the community. As part of the Ames Public Piano Project, the Parks and Recreation Department have installed the pianos at Tom Evans Plaza, in the Main Street Cultural District, and at Campustown Court.
Patricia Izbicki, a neuroscience student, spearheaded the project as a way of making music – and the benefits of music – accessible and fun for the public.
“This project is about promoting the joy of music making, advocating for the benefits of music on the brain, advocating for the link between the arts and sciences, and promoting the unique cultural diversity of Ames and Iowa State University,” Izbicki said.
The piano in Tom Evans Park will be unveiled during the Ames Public Piano Celebration at the Art Walk from 6:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, June 2. The piano in Campustown Court will be unveiled in the Ames Public Piano Celebration at Summerfest from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 3.
The pianos were painted by volunteers and have been weather-proofed with protective coatings. Custom made piano covers will be attached for additional protection. In the fall, the pianos will be removed. If they are in good condition, Izbicki said they could be brought inside and reused. If not, they would be disassembled.
The community piano on Main Street in Tom Evans Park was painted by participants of the 2016 ISU Office of Precollegiate Programs for Talented and Gifted (OPPTAG) Neuroscience of Music course. The community piano in Campustown Court was painted by participants of the 2016 First Baptist Church of Ames Music Camp.
The Ames Public Piano Project is supported and sponsored by ISU Focus Artist Grant Committee, OPPTAG, College of Design, First Baptist Church of Ames, Ames Main Street Cultural District, Ames Public Art Commission, Julie Johnston, Tom Russell, Walker Pett, and Dr. Elizabeth Stegemoller.