Landmarks: Enhancing Campus With Art

UT gets 28 large sculptures on long-term loan from the Metropolitan Museum

<i>Eyes</i>, by Louise Bourgeois
Eyes, by Louise Bourgeois

The 40 Acres is about to get a lot more … artful, thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The New York institution is lending the University of Texas 28 mid- to late-20th century sculptures that will be installed across campus as part of a new public art program at UT.

Seems the university decided a few years ago that it was time to have a real policy regarding the collection and display of public art on campus, and so engaged Peter Walker Partners, the architectural firm behind the Speedway and East Mall renovation, to develop a Public Art Master Plan that would guide the acquisition and placement of public art in coordination with the Campus Master Plan created by Cesar Pelli & Associates 12 years ago. Out of that effort has come Landmarks, as the public art program is called, and its first big project is the long-term loan from the Met, which was initiated by Landmarks founding director Andrée Bober. As the sculptures are too large for the Met to exhibit, the UT loan gets works by the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Jim Dine, and Antoine Pevsner out of storage and in front of thousands of people every day.

The first 17 sculptures will be installed in outdoor public spaces and inside campus buildings this month. The first work will be unveiled Friday, Sept. 12, 3pm, in Amphitheater 204 of the new AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, MLK at Whitis; before the event, Valerie Fletcher, senior curator of Modern Art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, will give a free public lecture explaining the historical significance of the sculptures. The remaining 11 pieces will be placed in Bass Concert Hall next January, when the current renovation is complete.

Eventually, Landmarks will oversee the purchase or commission of art for new campus buildings and public sites like medians, malls, gateways, and Waller Creek. With new building projects or major renovations of existing buildings, 1-2% of the capital cost of construction will be set aside for art acquisition. Art for other sites will be funded by private contributions and foundation support.

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