Historic Public Art

Historic Art on Campus

UCL’s internationally acclaimed art collections, held by UCL Art Museum, include public art commissions and bequests that are embedded into the fabric of UCL buildings, such as sculptural reliefs or murals as well as free-standing sculptures. Under the umbrella of the public art project the UCL Art Museum team will be working with the Estates team to make more of these works accessible as well as integrating more prize-winning Slade student works and alumni into the public realm. The selected historic artworks detailed below demonstrate UCL’s early commitment to encouraging engagement with ideas and knowledge through creative endeavour.

The Flaxman Gallery at the heart of UCL, under the UCL dome in the Main Library is the only surviving Victorian plaster model gallery in the UK was created in the mid-19th century. Shortly after, George Grote, historian of ancient Greek, treasurer and president of UCL at the time, commissioned Marmor Homericum (1865) from the celebrated artist of the day Henri de Triqueti. This sculptural relief represents Homer reciting the Illiad to the people of Delos and can be seen in the South Cloisters.

Accessible by appointment only is a room in the Wilkins Building of trompe l’oeil murals, known as The Cooper Murals named after Lady Cooper who commissioned them in 1935 from Slade student Rex Whistler. The murals were saved by Slade Professor William Coldstream in 1958 when the Cooper house was demolished. Also accessible by appointment is a unique display of decorative works made from tiles that feature scenes from children’s fairy tales installed in what was once a children’s ward, and is now a medical lab in the Cruciform Building.

UCL Art Museum

UCL Art Museum is home to over 10,000 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures dating from 1490 to the present day. The collection was founded in 1847 and contains extensive gifts bequeathed to UCL, such as the Grote Bequest of 1872 and the Vaughan Bequest of 1900. Objects separated by centuries are linked by a desire to experiment with new materials, theories, and techniques in order to produce new meanings, share ideas and inspire.

The Museum is located in a traditional Print Room at the heart of UCL. The collections are publicly accessible through temporary exhibitions, displays across the university campus and during public events. The Flaxman Gallery in the Wilkins Building showcases outstanding examples of the sculptor John Flaxman’s work in a unique architectural setting.

UCL Art Museum
South Cloisters, Wilkins Building
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

For more information:

+44 (0)20 7679 2540