About

The newly revised and adopted University Art Acquisition and Oversight Policy (CAP 146, March 2015) is a campus guide for acquiring artwork, and demonstrates Cal Poly’s commitment to making its fine art collections available to students and faculty. The policy unifies the university’s collecting practices in support of making works of fine art accessible for teaching and research, and enriching the artistic cultures of both our campus and local communities.

As the campus continues to strengthen and develop its fine art collections in ways that express and reinforce the university’s polytechnic identity, a major focus of the collections will be on public works of art that reflect the scholarship of the university. The collections encompass artwork in all forms, including but not limited to paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, architectural elements and installations.


University Collection Scope

The collection serves as a resource to support teaching and scholarly activities at Cal Poly and to enrich the cultural life and aesthetics of the University. Through acquisition, display and preservation, the collection benefits the Cal Poly community of students, faculty, staff and alumni as well as the community of the Central Coast. In order to best meet these goals and serve these communities, the collection focuses on the following collecting areas:

Permanent Collections


As the campus continues to strengthen and develop its art collection in conjunction with the University’s polytechnic identity, a major focus of the collection will be public works of art that reflect the scholarship of the University. The collection encompasses artwork in all forms, including but not limited to paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, architectural elements and installations.

Outdoor Collections

The Outdoor Collections enhance the campus setting and complement its buildings, grounds and natural features and include traditional and abstract artworks acquired primarily through donations, consisting of art installations, architectural elements, outdoor sculptures and models located throughout the University.

Legacy Collections

The Legacy Collections have been acquired primarily through past donations, and the University remains committed to preserving and, as appropriate, displaying these collections. Certain artworks from the Legacy Collections feature artistic practices and/or content and subject matter that are outside the University Collection Scope and Art Acquisition Criteria and necessitate curatorial analysis and thoughtful interpretation.


Principal Collections

Barber Western Art Collection: Assembled in 1994 and 1998 in two separate gifts from the J.O. Barber Family Trust to Cal Poly—the collection is comprised of 33 paintings, 25 bronzes and one model. The collection can be accessed online through the Campus Art Catalog or at the visible storage study room by appointment.

Gladys Gray Collection: Donated in the late 1980s to support the performing arts or to enhance the University's Art instruction program. The collection was originally comprised of approximately 850 paintings and watercolors by Gladys Gray, Stanton Gray and their contemporaries including California plein air artists and watercolorists Harold Forgostein, Phil Paradise, Rex Brandt and Arthur Millier. The collection is stored across campus and displayed in various departments. The collection can be accessed online through the Campus Art Catalog or at the visible storage study room by appointment.

ASI Collection: Includes works by students, alumni and faculty in addition to works by regional artists. A small portion of the collection is on public display in the University Union and can also be accessed online through the Campus Art Catalog.

Robert E. Kennedy Library Collection: The collection includes sculptures, paintings (examples include Arthur Honeywell Vachell, and Ford Times Art Collection which includes the work of Charlie Harper), and an outdoor sculpture by Ivan McLean. Most of the collection is on public display in the library and atrium and the remaining collection housed and accessible with Special Collections. A portion of the collection can be accessed online through the Campus Art Catalog.

Architecture Collection: Friezes (sculpture) and modillions/capitols formerly located at the Palace of Fine Arts, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, circa 1915. Friezes are by Ulric H. Ellerhusen and Bruno Louis Zimm (with Bernard Maybeck, architect). The pieces were relocated to Cal Poly after the 1964 restoration of the Palace of Fine Arts. They are located in the outdoor perimeter of the Architecture building and inside office corridors of the Landscape Architecture offices in Dexter. A portion of the collection can be accessed online through the Campus Art Catalog.

Outdoor Collection: The campus has many public outdoor sculptures in addition to sculptures featured within memorial settings. A highlight includes the “Spheres” project installed in the plaza for the Performing Arts Center by artist Ivan McLean. A portion of the collection can be accessed online through the Campus Art Catalog.

Baker Center Collection: The Baker Center for Science and Mathematics contains many original works of art and installations. Two recognizable examples include the “Periodic Table” installation and the Einstein bench. A portion of the collection can be accessed online through the Campus Art Catalog.


About the catalog

In collaboration with Kennedy Library IT, campus curator Catherine Trujillo, and with support from the Provost, the university art collection is managed using a web-based system called CollectiveAccess—free open-source software for managing and publishing collections. (E.g., backend data management/entry to coordinate catalog entries, location, storage, and non-confidential administrative info).

The public frontend web-based catalog artcollection.calpoly.edu is in beta and makes available for research and study select collections and records—in addition to sharing information regarding policies, procedures, and scheduled class visits. The public website is a custom integration of the open-source Blacklight discovery framework running on Ruby on Rails and the open-source CollectiveAccess collections management software running on PHP/MySQL.

Web development: Sean Gonzales, CS '18


For questions and helpful conversations about your proposal please contact:

Catherine J. Trujillo, Curator
lib-artcollection@calpoly.edu | (805) 756-6395