Perhaps a hidden gem to even La Jolla residents, the Stuart Collection on the UC San Diego campus is a spectacular local attraction where impressive sculptures and art pieces are integrated into buildings and existing landscaping. The most recognizable piece in the collection–especially if you’ve attended UCSD since its installation in 1983–is the Sun God. However, currently, there are 18 pieces of public art by leading artists that would make for a lovely walk or even a fun scavenger hunt with the kids as you try to find them throughout the campus.

About The Stuart Collection

La Jolla Project in UC San Diego Stuart Collection
La Jolla Project (1984) by Richard Fleischner
Stuart Collection
UC San Diego
Photo: Philipp Scholz Rittermann

The entire campus of UC San Diego may be considered as sites for commissioned sculpture, per a 1982 agreement between the Stuart Collection and the university. The collection is so innovative and different because, as mentioned previously, the art is woven into existing structures and landscape. The artists are selected based on advice from the Stuart Collection Advisory Board, a panel of internationally-renowned art professionals. The artists work with the university through the proposal, design and construction process in order to maintain the integrity of the university and chosen site. The collection is supported by the UCSD Department of Visual Arts, the Stuart Foundation, the Friends of the Stuart Collection, the National Endowment for the Arts, and many other organizations, foundations and individuals.

Pieces Currently in The Stuart Collection

Trees in UC San Diego Stuart Collection
Trees (1986) by Terry Allen
Stuart Collection
UC San Diego
Photo: Philipp Scholz Rittermann
  • Sun God (1983) by Niki de Saint Phalle
  • Two Running Violet V Forms (1983) by Robert Irwin
  • La Jolla Project (1984) by Richard Fleishner
  • Trees (1986) by Terry Allen
  • Something Pacific (1986) by Nam June Paik
  • UNDA (1987) by Ian Hamilton Finlay
  • Vices and Virtues (1988) by Bruce Nauman
  • La Jolla Vista View (1988) by William Wegman
  • Untitled (1991) by Michael Asher
  • Terrace (1991) by Jackie Ferrara
  • Green Table (1992) by Jenny Holzer
  • Snake Path (1992) by Alexis Smith
  • Red Shoe (1996) by Elizabeth Murray
  • Standing (1998) by Kiki Smith
  • READ/WRITE/THINK/DREAM (2001), John Baldessari
  • Bear (2005) Tim Hawkinson
  • Another (2008) Barbara Kruger
  • Fallen Star (2012) Do Ho Suh

How to Tour The Stuart Collection

READ WRITE THINK DREAM in UC San Diego Stuart Collection
READ/WRITE/THINK/DREAM (2001) by John Baldessari
Stuart Collection
UC San Diego
Photo: Philipp Scholz Rittermann

For an enriching self-guided tour, download the iPhone app which features videos explaining each piece from conception to installation. Download and print a map that will guide you around campus in more or less a circle to see the entire collection. It is one of the fantastic free things to do in La Jolla, however, you may wind up paying for parking at UCSD unless you walk over from elsewhere. How long you spend touring the collection depends on time spent viewing each piece, but plan for at least two hours and then have lunch at one of the campus restaurants.

Note that Falling Star, the blue house in the top photo, is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and can close at random. You can actually take a peek inside the little crooked house sitting on the edge of Jacobs Hall in Jacobs School of Engineering. This is a very cool piece that deserves its own post. Stay tuned.

Why Is it Great For Kids?

Well, unlike a standard contemporary art museum, the kids can touch and even climb on the art in some cases. And, if you print the map, it’s fun to check off the pieces as you go. Or, show them photos and see who can spot the pieces first. Turn the search into a fun game and a nice day out in La Jolla with kids.

Visit for more information. Whether you live in La Jolla or are just visiting, the Stuart Collection is worth seeing.

Have you visited the Stuart Collection? Do you have a favorite piece?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. So glad I saw this! I love public art and will definitely take my kids to this place when we go to Southern CA soon.

  2. Wow – we live in San Diego and had never even heard of this! Will definitely bookmark (or, well, pin) to do sometime soon!