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Across Michigan State University’s 5,300-acre campus are more than 500 academic buildings, numerous park-like green spaces, and the banks of the Red Cedar River. Dotted throughout this landscape is an extensive collection of public art, available and accessible to Spartans, community members and visitors all year round.
At MSU, the arts are “irreplaceable instruments of knowledge” and an integral part of the university’s academic mission. One group that continues this mission is the Campus Public Art Committee. Established in 1999 by the MSU Board of Trustees, the committee makes recommendations on the acquisition, placement, and maintenance of public art on campus. MSU dedicates one-half of one percent of the cost of major renovations or new buildings (excluding utilities) to public art, capped at $250,000 per project.
“We talk about campus as a living laboratory of learning and public art is part of that,” says Judith Stoddart, vice-president of university collections and arts initiatives, who leads the public art committee on campus. . “MSU’s arts initiative considers how the arts are integrated into daily life on campus for the people who live, work, study, and visit here.”
Since its inception, the committee has guided the installation of 153 works of public art on campus, including paintings, lithographs, photographs, indoor and outdoor sculptures, architectural glass, tile mosaics and an installation of digital projection. And that’s just part of the art treasure on campus.
“Overall, we have probably 800 to 900 public art assets on campus that were either part of the progress administration, or reliefs on buildings that were part of the architecture, or colleges that have purchased art or gifted art,” says campus planner Stephen Troost.
Many of these artworks can be viewed on the MSU Campus Art Map.