San Diego For Free: Amazing Campus Art at The Stuart Collection at UCSD

The Geisel Library at UCSD. (All photos by John P Anderson.)

The Stuart Collection at UCSD

Neighborhood & Address: La Jolla; 9500 Gilman Drive, San Diego, CA 92093
Best For: All ages, modern art fans
Hours: All day, every day, always free

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) sits on 1,200 acres above the Pacific Ocean about 10 miles north of downtown San Diego in the neighborhood of La Jolla. UCSD is the highest ranked university in San Diego, ranked #38 among national universities in the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings.

The campus is a lovely place to visit for a walk, with groves of eucalyptus trees playing a prominent role in the scenery. As with most college campuses, there is an excitement in the air and people watching is fun with so many people walking, biking, and skateboarding around.

The most known building on the UCSD campus is the Geisel Library, named after longtime La Jolla residents Audrey and Theodor Geisel, better known to most as Dr. Seuss. Lesser known than the iconic library is the Stuart Collection; works of art found throughout the campus. The works are found indoors and out, some pieces are huge and others are rather small. I had visited the superb website of the Stuart Collection a few times to plan a trip beforehand and after viewing the artwork in person I was left very impressed. (Although it would likely be considered sacrilege by my fellow alumni of the University of Notre Dame I would say that UCSD has a more beautiful campus and the Stuart Collection is a big reason for this.)

There are currently 17 pieces in the Stuart Collection so I won’t try to cover them all here but will say that Bear by Tim Hawkinson was my favorite (both in photos and in person). Take a look at the Stuart Collection website for a sampling of the installations, but remember that in person they can look quite different and some pieces are better suited for night or specific conditions other than daytime.

Before visiting the campus I highly recommend printing off a map of the Stuart Collection, or downloading their iPhone app. The visitor center was closed when I visited, but inside the Geisel Library the information desk had copies of the walking guide available which was essential since some of the pieces are not in prominent locations.

I hope you are enjoying the start of fall and the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having. If you are motivated to visit the Stuart Collection this weekend I hope you enjoy yourself – I’m taking my family for a return visit this weekend as well.


John P. Anderson

John was an accountant in a former life and now devotes his time to child-rearing, reading, writing, and working to ensure that San Diego is truly America's Finest City. Interested in environmental issues, John enjoys connecting with others that want to improve the health of our world and community. You can find John at or on Twitter (@j_p_a_). Comments, suggestions, wisdom, and complaints are enthusiastically welcomed.