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Sydney | Hearts, Hands, Minds: 75 years UNSW Art Collection


This exhibition traces the development of the UNSW Art Collection through strategic purchases, major commissions, charitable donations, and notable gifts by artists and alumni.

From the time of UNSW’s foundation in 1949, art and culture have been an important part of the identity of the University. While the strengths of the new institution lay in science and technology, its first leaders believed in the importance of a holistic education and sought to foster cultural experiences on campus for students and staff. Within a few years, they had commissioned important public artworks for the University’s buildings and established an art collection.

This exhibition traces the development of the UNSW Art Collection through strategic purchases, major commissions, charitable donations, and notable gifts by artists and alumni. Hearts, Hands, Minds features paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, and video art by significant modern and contemporary artists.

Today, the UNSW Art Collection comprises 1400 works of art, which are displayed across campus and in special exhibitions. Highlights of the collection include Aboriginal bark paintings from the 1960s to the present day and Australian art from the 1980s and 1990s. Recent acquisitions have broadened the scope of the collection with works by contemporary Indigenous artists, women artists, and alumni.

This exhibition is a collaboration between UNSW Library and UNSW Art Collection in celebration of UNSW’s 75th anniversary.


Image: The University’s first conferring of degrees at Kensington, showing the Tom Bass sculpture The Falconer on the Old Main Building façade. (16/04/1955). Photographic agency: NSW Government Printer. UNSW Archives. CN944/082


UNSW is located on the unceded territory of the Bedegal (Kensington campus), Gadigal (City and Paddington Campuses) and Ngunnawal peoples (UNSW Canberra) who are the Traditional Owners of the lands where each campus of UNSW is situated.