There are four named galleries in the library. Art is also displayed in several other areas in the lower level, and on the first and second floor.
The Winnifred S. Cone Gallery
Named in honor of the wife of the artist, this gallery contains a comprehensive collection of paintings and drawings by Marvin Cone, class of 1914.
The Cone holdings are particularly noteworthy in that the majority of the pieces were personally selected by Marvin Cone himself, as representative of major stylistic watersheds in his career. As such, they possess particular significance for both the scholar and the layperson.
The East gallery includes a display case containing subjects from Marvin Cone's paintings, a bust made by Marvin Cone, and the insignia designed by Marvin Cone for the 34th division of the United States Army, along with some programs from Cone's art openings.
The West gallery features Marvin Cone's works from the mid-1950's, many of which feature his later abstract style.
The library's formal meeting room, located on the west side of the library just beyond the Cone Gallery, features illuminated manuscript pages from the 15th century as well as another Marvin Cone piece depicting the quarry in Stone City, Iowa.
Noteworthy are the earliest and last pieces in the Marvin Cone collection. Lamellibranchiata (Unio) (Clam) was drawn in 1912 while Marvin was a student at Coe. Remembered Light, both the study in graphite and the final oil were some of the last pieces executed by the artist.
Seven pieces by the noted Pop Aritst Andy Warhol are on display in the hallway of the reading room, while one of his iconic soup can prints and Polaroids line the room as well. Also of note are pieces by Karel Appel, Milton Avery, Pierre Bonnard, Thomas Nast, and Henri de Tolouse-Lautrec, spanning multiple 19th and 20th century art movements.
The north study rooms on the first floor boast ten of a set of fifteen photographs by Iowa photographer John W. Barry, featuring scenes from the Stone City Art Colony, which was conducted by Grant Wood and Marvin Cone during the summers of 1932-33 in Stone City, Iowa.
The lower level of the library features six works by 20th century artists, including three additional Marvin Cone regionalist pieces.
Thirteen of the fourteen works of Grant Wood owned by the College are on display in this gallery.
The six large farm murals on the east and west walls and the smaller mural, Fruit Basket, constitute the heart of this important regionalist portion of Coe's collection. Collectively they are known as The Fruits of Iowa and were commissioned by Eugene C. Eppley for the Coffee Shop of his Cedar Rapids Montrose Hotel. When the hotel changed ownership in 1956, the murals were lent to the College where they were prominently displayed in the Library. They have remained here ever since. In 1976, the Eppley Foundation graciously donated the murals to the College.
Five smaller, yet significant works by Wood supplement these murals, including the charcoal on paper study of Daughters of Revolution, and some of his high school pieces.
Coe College has also acquired a distinguished collection of works by Conger Metcalf, a 1936 graduate of the College. Although he studied under Marvin Cone at Coe, he actually graduated with a degree in music with the hopes of becoming a concert pianist. Instead, he built a wide reputation in the art world, especially in Boston where he worked for 50 years. The collection now totals forty-five works housed in and outside two galleries on the second floor.
This gallery honoring the memory of the artist contains some of his finest drawings of children, as well as the largest piece executed by the artist, Sienese Shadow Patterns. The 1991 portrait of the artist by Warren and Lucia Prosperi hangs outside the gallery.
This gallery, both inside and out, continues the Metcalf collection and was named the Reva and John Pashgian Gallery at the request of their son, Gordon J. Pashgian, class of 1971. The gallery contains some of Metcalf’s best technical drawings and highlights his superb draftsmanship. A recent addition is Metcalf’s remembered image of his mother, Medora. This piece is on permanent loan from the Washington County Historical Society where it hung for many years. Also of importance in this gallery are early works from high school while others were completed when Metcalf was a student at the College.
This popular study room features works from various 20th century artists, of note are two lithograph prints by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. The hand-made Asian saddle featured in this room belonged to Edward S. Murray '30. Murray bought the saddle to use during his nine-month stay in Kalja, Chinese Turkistan, as well as his travels across Asia inn 1933-34. His trip was featured in the September 1941 issue of National Geographic.