AUSTIN (KXAN) – If you’ve spent time on the University of Texas on the Austin campus, you’ve most likely checked out the school’s public art program, which includes many pieces borrowed from the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
UT’s public art program, called Landmarks, began in 2008 with 28 works on loan from the Met. Since then, it has grown to 46 installations on campus and at Dell Medical School.
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The collection includes commissions from admired or up-and-coming artists. Kathleen Stimpert, deputy program director, said each piece is chosen to fit the space, such as art that mimics binary code in the computer science building or a female sculpture outside the former women’s gymnasium. Many of the selected artists are known in the art world, said Stimpert.
The university is celebrating 15 years of the program. On a typical day, the art gets over 160,000 views plus 75,000 visits to the program’s “crown jewel,” the Turrell Skyspace, a colorful installation for viewing sunrises and sunsets, per year.
One of the most important works is Monochrome for Austin. It looks like a jumble of canoes and small boats at the corner of Speedway and 24th Street.
“Students affectionately call it ‘the canoes,’” said Stimpert. “It would be like meeting me at the canoes.”
The budget for any on-campus renovation or construction project includes 1-2% dedicated to the public arts. More artistic additions are in the works, Stimpert said, with a mural planned in the Seay Building that houses the psychology department.
“It’s an incredible indication of UT’s commitment to having a campus that truly produces well-rounded students,” he said.
Visitors can take guided tours of the collection on the first Sunday of each month at 11am. A tour of the app with QR codes on the signage of each piece is also available.
Here’s a look at some of the artwork on campus:
Monochrome for Austin
Nancy Rubins’ work is approximately 50 feet tall and consists of 70 canoes and small boats. She is outside the Norman Hackerman building. It was commissioned in 2015 and combines elements of art and engineering, Stimpert said.
Simone Leigh’s sculpture is located outside the Anna Hiss Gymnasium, a former women’s only gymnasium. It was made in 2020 and is inspired by a Zulu ceremonial spoon that “conveys status among the Zulu people and symbolizes women’s work,” says the sculpture’s online description.
The digital art display is a panoramic piece that is inspired by symbiosis and plays on an animated loop near a studio area. It was made by Jennifer Steinkamp in 2020. The display is inside the College of Natural Sciences.
Circle with towers
The sculpture is the only piece in the Landmarks collection that you can sit on or touch. You may find students lounging outside the Bill and Melinda Gates Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall.
The sculpture is made up of cubes meant to mimic binary code and matches other shapes of cubes around the building. It was made in 2011 by Sol LeWitt.