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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 loaned to other institutions.

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).

The Art Museum is currently working toward the goal of offering online access to our collection, but this is a large undertaking and requires a significant investment of time and research. In the meantime, view Collection Spotlights highlighting just a few of the works in our holdings.

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.

Gallery Hours

Free and open to the public
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday: Noon-7 p.m.
Sunday Noon-4 p.m.
By appointment for group tours.

Closed during the summer, between exhibitions and during university holidays.


The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall, on the corner of College Avenue and Castle Drive on the main campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.

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