All About the Arts UW

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Art has the power to stir the imagination, provoke thought, share beauty, and connect communities. Here at the University of Washington, our community serves as a hub to unite our neighbors and our students and faculty in discovery, curiosity, and creativity.

From the growing collection of public arts across our campuses, to the programming and events, the Arts and Creativity Initiative (ArtsUW) aims to bring together students, artists, scholars and audiences in state-of-the-art facilities to catalyze creative discovery.

Below, we explore this program and dive into ways you can get more involved in the arts at UW.

Catherine Cole, UW CAS Dean of Arts Division

Catherine Cole, UW CAS Dean of the Arts Division

The ArtsUW program at the University of Washington is the conglomerate of every school of the arts within the university, including the School of Art + Art History + Design, the Department of Dance, the School of Drama, the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS), and the School of Music.

Led by Divisional Dean of the Arts, Dr. Catherine Cole, ArtsUW aims to become known as a global center and regional engine for the arts—a place where students, artists, scholars, and audiences join in creative discovery.

Throughout her tenure, Professor Cole has led initiatives within the program that prioritized research support for arts faculty, launched new interdisciplinary exchanges among faculty and visiting artists, and sponsored the development of new courses designed to make the arts more accessible for all UW students.

“Universities play a key role in facilitating artistic innovation, and the Arts and Creativity Initiative will bring together faculty, guest artists and students to deepen knowledge and experiment with new techniques that cross traditional boundaries.”

With the ArtsUW initiative, Professor Cole has catalyzed efforts in centering diversity, equity, inclusion, and access across all units in the Arts Division. As the front porch of the UW, the ArtsUW is where the public is invited and welcomed to come together and share an experience.

(Note: Catherine Cole has recently transitioned out of the dean position, with Gabriel Solis stepping in as the Divisional Dean of the Arts. Solis joins the UW from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he is a professor of music and has most recently served as Head of the Department of Theatre.)

Experience the Arts at the University of Washington

The University of Washington is fortunate to have a growing collection of art for the entire community to contemplate and enjoy. Here, you can partake in a wide range of rich artistic experiences side-by-side with students, faculty, and staff.

Plan your visit and experience the arts through our open museums and galleries below:

Artists rendition of updated (2019) facade of Burke museum

Burke Museum

The Burke is a research- and collections-based museum with over 16 million objects. Opening in fall 2019, the New Burke will be a flagship facility for the Washington State Museum of Natural History and Culture.

With 12 visible labs and an artists’ workshop, the New Burke will turn the museum “inside-out,” breaking down traditional museum barriers and inviting visitors to be part of a working research facility.

Exterior of Henry Art GalleryHenry Art Gallery

The Henry is internationally-recognized for bold and challenging exhibitions, for pushing the boundaries of contemporary art and culture, and for being the first to premiere new works by established and emerging artists.

The Henry’s permanent collection includes both historical and contemporary artworks, collected since the museum’s inception in 1926. The collection now contains more than 28,000 works of art and is a significant cultural resource available to scholars, researchers, and the general public through the Eleanor Henry Reed Collection Study Center—the only facility of its kind in the region.

Interior of Jacob Lawrence GalleryJacob Lawrence Gallery

(Currently closed to visitors due renovation)

The Jacob Lawrence Gallery is a space devoted to education, social justice, and experimentation that honors the legacy of one of the 20th century’s greatest artists, Jacob Lawrence.

One of the 20th century’s most acclaimed visual storytellers of Black American experiences, Jacob Lawrence began his career in Harlem where he was mentored by artists such as Charles Aston and Augusta Savage. In 1938, when Jacob Lawrence was just 21, the Baltimore Museum of Art exhibited his paintings of the Haitian general who led the revolution of the slaves to independence.

Throughout his life, Lawrence made important stories vibrant and visible, depicting events such as the Great Migration, World War II, and the civil rights movement. By age 30, he was considered the foremost African American artist in the United States.

View of Meany Hall seating from stageMeany Center for the Performing Arts

Meany Center for the Performing Arts fosters innovative performances that advance public engagement, cultural exchange, creative research and learning through the arts.

Meany Center provides opportunities for diverse artists, community, students and faculty to connect in the discovery and exploration of the boundless power of the arts to create positive change in the world.


Upcoming Events

Explore the rich programming and provocative performances that the University of Washington has to offer. Visit the ArtsUW Events page for more information and to join an event near you.