The University of Wollongong Art Collection began in the late 1970s, and has grown through the ongoing support of artists, collectors and donors. It now encompasses more than 5,000 works, focusing on three areas:
- Regionally significant works by artists who live or work in the Illawarra
- Contemporary excellence from Australian and New Zealand artists
- The development of particular specialisations, such as Indigenous works and works on paper.
Today, the collection features works to rival major Australian galleries, including pieces from influential artists such as Lloyd Rees, James Gleeson, Judy Watson and Emily Kngwarreye. Our core strength lies in our combination of works in specific areas, including a remarkable collection of more than 2,000 Indigenous works on paper.
Melbourne scientist and collector Dr Douglas Kagi has donated a considerable number of works by eminent mid-20th century English artists, including Richard Hamilton and Peter Blake. The gift marked our transition into the international sphere.
We are committed to providing dispersed, open access to our art, so that students, staff and visitors have the opportunity to interact with the collection on a daily basis. While many other universities and public institutions have developed strong art collections, few could match the level of accessibility and size of collection at UOW. At any given time around 30 per cent of the collection is on display.
We are now at a pivotal stage in our development. Our challenge now is to maintain this unique accessibility while ensuring every piece of art is cared for and conserved for future generations to enjoy.
“The idea of accessibility to art was, and still is, absolutely predominant. From the very beginning art works were to be seen around the University. Regardless of the faculty or campus where students were studying, they could see art on the walls and in the grounds. Art has the power to make us fascinated and curious, angry and delighted, and to make us think – all useful elements in a university environment.”
Guy Warren, eminent artist and UOW Art Collection Director 1992-2005
How you can help
We greatly welcome philanthropic support for our ongoing conservation program, so that we can continue to make artworks fully accessible to our students, staff and visitors. As the majority of the collection is spread across many buildings and campuses, with a variety of different environments and needs, it requires a complex and carefully planned schedule of maintenance and protection.
You can support our preservation activities in a number of areas including:
- Enabling us to digitize sections of the collection and purchasing UV filtering frames for our photographic works. Estimated cost per UV frame: $450-$3,500, depending on size
- Helping to conserve a particular piece, including cleaning, stabilisation, conservation and relocation.
- Supporting us to employ a part-time conservator who will be responsible for managing the conservation program. Estimated cost: $50,000
“Our collection is a key asset and resource for the University, and a distinctive part of our identity. The biggest challenge is how to balance the place that the collection has in the University community with the important functions of conservation and documentation, and with the possibilities for using it more intensively in our research and teaching.”
Professor Amanda Lawson, Director, UOW Art Collection
- More of our collection will continue to be accessible today by students and visitors, helping to inspire, provoke and entertain.
- More pieces will be preserved for the long-term, so that future generations can enjoy them.
- The collection will be further used for research and teaching, for example so that students studying law can examine how Indigenous artists represent legal issues in visual art or psychology students can research how artists represent thoughts and ideas.
- The digitised collection will be accessible to staff, national and international academics, so that, for example, they can undertake research or plan for parts of the collection to be used in exhibitions.