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Entryway to UC San Diego's Geisel Library, which features John Baldessari's public artwork titled Read, Write, Think, Dream.
At the entrance to UC San Diego's Geisel Library you will find John Baldessari's READ/WRITE/THINK/DREAM work.

About The Stuart Collection

The Stuart Collection is unique among universities in the United States, given its scope and approach to commissioning contemporary sculpture. The collection is made possible through an innovative partnership between the University of California San Diego and the Stuart Collection Foundation. The agreement, established in 1982 and renewed in 2003, inaugurated the entire 1,200-acre campus as available for commissioned sculpture. UC San Diego has supported the collection since its inception, from hiring staff to manage the commissions to maintaining the works and contributing to commission funds.

The mission of the Stuart Collection is to enrich the cultural, intellectual and scholarly life of the UC San Diego campus community and local San Diego community by cultivating a unique assemblage of site-specific works by leading artists of our time.

The artistic statement that the collection declares matches the level of excellence that both mirrors and amplifies UC San Diego’s distinction as a science and technology powerhouse. There is a uniquely elevating alliance between the ongoing pursuits of a major research university and the expression of contemporary art. Both address the most important questions of our time and do so with ambition and intellectual courage. Without its persistent quest for discovery and creativity, a university would stagnate as a lifeless intellectual artifact. 

The Stuart Collection is distinguished from a traditional sculpture garden by its site-specific nature. Many of the installations are fused to university buildings and integrated into the landscape itself. Great care is taken to incorporate the university's long- and short-range plans while maintaining the integrity of the art and providing provocative, thoughtful and carefully considered additions to the fabric of campus life.

Barbara Kruger's Another has an impressive presence within Price Center.

Many of the artists who have designed works for the collection are associated with movements or attitudes that are seldom represented in public sculpture collections. They have been honored with every major award in the art world, ranging from the Pulitzer Prize to the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Medal of Arts awarded by President Barack Obama. In addition, the collection includes four recipients of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant” which celebrates intellect, accomplishment and creative potential.

Behind the scenes: curatorial process

The collection continues to commission exciting new works from the world’s most important contemporary artists. We seek artists who think in interesting ways, regardless of whether they have produced sculptures or completed a permanent outdoor installation previously. When an artist is identified, they are invited to the university to explore the campus and imagine where their work would sprout. Throughout the proposal, design and construction phases, artists select and tailor their work to a specific UC San Diego site.

Once a proposal is submitted, the Stuart Collection Advisory Board—comprised of some of the world’s most respected contemporary curators, historians and artists—considers the impact of their idea. Projects chosen for realization are then submitted for a campus review process, including the Chancellor’s Office. Once approved, a budget is established and fundraising begins—all sculptures come to life thanks to private donations.

Alexis Smith's 62 by 22-foot mural is installed at the university's North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Creative partners

The collection began with the support of the Stuart Foundation. It has since grown to encompass an impressive range of projects thanks to the enthusiastic partnership of the UC San Diego Department of Visual Arts, along with financial support from the Friends of the Stuart Collection, the National Endowment for the Arts, and many other organizations, foundations and individuals.

The collection has become a significant point of pride for the university.

“The University of California San Diego is an innovative and transformative public university that pushes boundaries, expands imaginations and embraces nontradition,” explains Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Devoted to bringing outdoor sculpture to the university, the collection remains an important and inspired component of the campus.”

 Established in 1960, UC San Diego is a public research university shaped by exceptional scholars who aren’t afraid to make waves—from turning abandoned oil rigs into artificial reefs to fighting malaria by genetically immunizing mosquitos and bringing new worlds to life on stage through immersive sets. The campus, located in the La Jolla community of San Diego, Calif., is consistently ranked among the best public universities in the nation and top 20 in the world for research, health, public service and career prospects.

The Stuart Collection continues to shine a spotlight on UC San Diego as a destination for visitors from across the nation and around the world. The collection invites, cultivates and inspires art students, art enthusiasts and prominent collectors from throughout the United States and abroad.