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Art On Campus

Iowa State University is home to one of the largest campus public art programs in the United States.  Over 2,000 works of public art, including 600 by significant national and international artists, are located across campus in buildings, courtyards, open spaces and offices.

The traditional public art program began during the Depression in the 1930s when Iowa State College’s President Hughes envisioned that "the arts would enrich and provide substantial intellectual exploration into our college curricula." Hughes invited Iowa Artist Grant Wood to create the Library’s agricultural murals that speak to the founding of Iowa and Iowa State College and Model Farm. [See Lost & Found Art.] He also offered Christian Petersen a one-semester sculptor residency to design and build the courtyard fountain and bas relief at the Dairy Industry Building. In 1955, 21 years later, Petersen retired having created 12 major sculptures for the campus, and hundreds of small studio sculptures.

In the beginning, public art traditions on campus were informally established, and have become more formalized recently. Through these transitions, there are several significant traditions that have been ongoing:

The years 1955 through 1979 were lean years for public art at Iowa State and across the country.  In 1979, Iowa passed the Iowa Art in State Buildings legislation, which requires one-half of one percent of new construction or remodeling funds to be used to acquire public art.  Since 1979, Iowa State has completed numerous Art in State Buildings projects, commissioned or acquired over 700 works of public art, and involved over 1000 faculty, students and staff in the commissioning process.

To see more images or receive further information on the Art on Campus Collection, click here or contact the University Museums office at 515-294-3342.

The cost is free.

The Art on Campus collection is available to the public for viewing 24 hours a day, year round (some restrictions apply to art located inside buildings). 

To arrange a tour of the Art on Campus Collection, please download the University Museums Tour Request Form and submit or email to Dave Faux

The Art on Campus Collection is located on the exterior and interior of buildings across campus at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Please see the selection of maps below.

If approaching Ames on Interstate 35 from the north or south, take exit 111B labeled Highway 30 West. From westbound or eastbound Highway 30 take the University Blvd. (formerly Elwood Dr.) exit and turn north. University Blvd. will pass on the east side of Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum, continue north to Lincoln Way. Turn left on Lincoln Way and proceed west to Union Drive. Take a right on Union Drive which will lead to the Memorial Union ramp or turn right on Wallace Road to the East Parking Deck.

There is paid ramp parking at the Memorial Union Ramp (aprox. 2-4 minute walk from Morrill Hall). Entrances are from the south off of Lincoln Way and from the North off of Union Drive. There is paid parking at the Armory – Lot 21 (aprox. 2-4 minute walk from Morrill Hall). The East Campus Parking Deck is located on Wallace Road where it intersects Union Drive near Forker Building. There are also meters in several of the lots on campus. Please read the signs and time limits on the meters carefully. Map of parking lots

Online interactive map
Map of Art on Campus (2015)

Learn about one of the most recent large conservation project - Silver Code - the C.Y. Stephens Auditorium Art Curtain.