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A Brief History of the University of Houston Public Art Collection

On September 6, 1966, University of Houston Board of Regents and then President Philip Hoffman voted to establish a policy that would dedicate one percent of the construction cost of all future building projects for works of art. The University of Houston was in the process of undergoing an unprecedented building boom and it was thought that a public art program would greatly enhance the campus as well as the prestige of the University. In 1969, the Texas legislature voted to enact 1% for art for University of Houston. UH was the first state institution to establish a percent for art program and currently has one of the largest and most impressive university art collections in the country.

The first works purchased for the collection were Orbit I and Orbit II by Japanese born Masaru Takiguchi , a guest artist was teaching in the Art Department for the 1969-70 term. Orbit I was installed in the lobby of the Science & Research Building and Orbit II for Krost Hall of the Bates School of Law. The large scale bronze Albertus Magnus by the German artist Gerhard Marcks was the first work purchased for outdoor placement and located at the entrance to the Law Center complex in 1970. Today, the collection numbers over 600 works located at all UH System Universities featuring regional and internationally acclaimed artists.

With the help of the University’s System Wide Public Art Committee comprised of UH Regents, UH System faculty and staff, local museum curators, directors and community representatives, the collection continues to expand and include work by local, regional, national and international artists.


Detail, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Double Physichromie, 2009