The University’s art collection comprises over 700 works, with the most prominent of these being on display outdoors on campus and in representative spaces such as the Auditorium, the portrait gallery, the main halls, the Faculty Club, meeting rooms, etcetera. The largest share of the collection, however, is in staff offices, on loan from the internal Art Library. The collection, which has grown steadily, initially consisted of two kinds of works: portraits of Rectores Magnifici, such as Goossens and Cobbenhagen, and works that expressed the institution’s Catholic roots. Examples in this category include a 15th century Madonna, representing Mary with the Christ child in her lap as the seat of wisdom, a so-called sedes sapientiae; and an early medieval corpus Christi.
The collection encompasses various genres, such as sculptures, paintings, graphic art and drawings. The drawings of the Rectores Magnifici in the portrait gallery, for instance, have been made by three different artists. Since 2002, the University has focused on contemporary photography, a relatively young genre in the arts and an apt one for a university that also has its roots in the 20th century. A special example here is a photograph on display in the Auditorium dating from 2013, which has the theme of Understanding Society and has been printed on textile, in collaboration with TextielMuseum in Tilburg.
Most works in the collection are permanent loans, some from the government, and others from private collections, such as that of Rien van den Brink, the father of Professor Gabriël van den Brink. Another part of the collection, particularly those in outdoor spaces, has been acquired by way of the so-called “percentage rule,” meaning that one percent of any construction costs, newbuild or renovation, should be reserved for artistic applications. The collection also includes several bequests, such as the bronze bust of Lotta Blokker, which was donated by alumnus Paul van Rensch; it has been located to the side in the glass corridor connecting the Cobbenhagen and Goossens Buildings.