Most of the NIU Art Museum collection consists of 20th century works of art on paper including prints, drawings and photographs, but also contains contemporary paintings and sculpture. Through the generosity of several benefactors, the collection has grown to over 2,500 art objects. Works from the collection have been shown in staff curated exhibitions and placed on loan to other institutions.

As a Teaching Resource

The collection is continually utilized as a teaching resource by faculty within the School of Art and Design and the entire university. Class visits emphasize the value of direct, first-hand experiences with actual original works of art from various periods. To see if a visit to the collection might enhance your class, please submit a Group Visit and Guided Tour Reservation with your particular interest. The Museum curator will review your request and its fit with the art objects in our holdings (please note: not all interests will align with the works in our collection).

Online Collection Database


A portion of the Collection is available for viewing online. Our goal is to continue adding more object records as time permits.

This project is funded through support provided by the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the generosity of Elizabeth and Harvey Plotnick and Sally Stevens.

Major Gifts

NIU received its first large donation of artwork from Melvin Pfaelzer in the mid-1970s. Other major donations have come from Dr. and Mrs. E. Daniel Albrecht and the David and Sarajean Ruttenberg Foundation. Recently, a generous donation of Asian art was made to NIU by the Richard F. Grott Family. A catalog for each of these sizable artwork donations is available from the Art Museum.

In 2006, we became aware of the Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal, an initiative which seeks to reunite artworks that may have been looted during the Nazi era with their rightful owners. The NIU Art Museum supports this initiative and has begun to research the provenance (chain of ownership) of objects in our collection which may have been in Europe at that time.

Image: detail of David F. Driesbach. Opening Night, Lithograph, 1985. NIU Art Museum Collection.

Contact Us

NIU Art Museum
Altgeld Hall 116

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Gallery Hours

10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday
Noon - 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday
Noon - 3 p.m. Saturday and by appointment for group tours.

Closed university holidays and between exhibitions.