University Art Collection as a bridge between academia and the public – from research and teaching to community cohesion and engagement

This session took place as part of the 2022 Learning and Teaching Forum Conference.

The presenters were Helena Cox.


Aim: My talk will focus on student and public engagement, including life-long learning and impact. I will talk about using art to reach out to the public, and I will touch on both local, national, and international collaborations. The core of my talk deals with using the university art collection to promote community cohesion and enhance the student and academic experience. Takeaway: The participants will learn about the existence of the University Art Collection (which is not a widely known fact at the moment!) and will find out how the art collection can be used to boost academic research and impact, enhance the student experience and create lasting collaborations across the university. They will also find out how the art collection can help with community engagement and cohesion, and how we plan to use the collection to foster and strengthen the links to our local communities. The University Art Collection currently holds over 900 artworks dating from 1500 to the present day, including painting, sculpture, pottery, textiles, prints and photography. Public art played an important part in the concept of the original campus, and the collection has been growing organically since the 1960s. In January 2022, I became the inaugural Art Curator, overseeing the collection. In this talk, I will share the amazing opportunity that I see for the Art Collection to engage with both students, academics as well as the public. I will elaborate on the different roles that the Art Collection plays in fulfilling the ‘University Strategy 2030’ and I will present an outlook on the many benefits that the collection brings to the University’s varied communities. This includes working closely with the students and students’ unions, facilitating object-led learning, as well as engaging in research activities across departments and specialisms. I will also focus on the ways of opening the campus to the public and connecting to our local communities using art as well as putting the collection on the cultural map of York. Such outreach will include national and international collaborations as well as fostering local links. This is a historic moment for the Art Collection which I believe will become a priceless platform for strengthening the mutually beneficial connection between the academic and local communities in York and beyond.

You can access the recording of this session at this link:

University Art Collection as a bridge between academia and the public – from research and teaching to community cohesion and engagement (UoY Panopto log-in required)

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