Art has the power to provoke thought, stimulate the imagination, offer beauty, spark conversation and even stir the soul. The University of Washington is fortunate to have a growing collection of public art for the entire community to contemplate and enjoy. The public art collections are part of the University’s enduring commitment to enhancing the campus environment through the enrichment of a meaningful and innovative public art program that:
- Supports the creation of contemporary art
- Fosters engagement with artists and the community
- Encourages new ideas about art within the campus environment
In addition to the collections of the Henry Art Gallery and the Burke Museum, the University of Washington is home to a collection of artwork sited on the grounds and in various buildings throughout each of its campuses in Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell. The collection is divided roughly into three conceptual groups: (1) Works of public art commissioned by the Washington State Arts Commission/UW Public Art Commission, (2) Gifts of fine art and (3) Commemorative works.
Per RCW 28B.10.027, the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) Art in Public Places Program funds works of public art on each campus, ranging from collections of paintings, prints and photographs to large-scale sculptures and sculptural installations. The funding equals 0.5% of the construction budget of state-funded building projects. Since 1990 these works have been commissioned at the recommendation of the UW Public Art Commission (UWPAC), a standing body of students, faculty, staff, community representatives and nationally recognized arts professionals.
The UWPAC is guided by Executive Order No. 37 and the Campus Art Policies. Chaired by the Director of the Henry Art Gallery and staffed by the Public Arts Coordinator, the responsibilities of the UWPAC include overseeing the selection of artists, reviewing artists’ proposals and site selection, track execution and installation, and direct conservation of works. The commission is comprised of a balanced membership of art professionals, faculty, staff and students.
Gifts of art have come from individual and corporate donors and make up the bulk of the rest of the collection. A gift of particular note is the Broken Obelisk (Barnett Newman, 1963), given by the Virginia Wright Foundation in 1973. These generous offerings provide the university collection with a breadth and depth that is not achievable with only state funding.
Commemorative works include portraits, portrait busts, statues, class gifts and other monuments and memorials. In addition to our magnificent statue of George Washington (Loredo Taft, 1907), the campus collection also honors students, faculty, staff and distinguished members of the community.