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Civic Art Collection

The Civic Art Collection is comprised of all the artworks owned or controlled by the City and was begun unofficially in 1909 when the City accepted the gift of the Horton Plaza fountain from Louis J. Wilde, a businessman and banker. The City has continued to receive numerous donations of artwork, many of which are of art historical importance and historical significance, ever since. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, works on paper and prints and is further distinguished by the commissioning and acquisition of various artworks in public places.

The mission of the City’s Civic Art Collection is to provide meaningful aesthetic and cultural experiences for San Diego’s residents and visitors. The City collects artworks that demonstrate the creativity and innovation practiced in the arts; that stimulate discussion and the exchange of ideas; that balance urbanization and development with humanizing elements; that honor the history and heritage of San Diego and its citizens; and/or that reflect the character and diversity of San Diego’s region while incorporating a global perspective.

The scope of the Civic Art Collection is limited to the acquisition of artworks that achieve the highest standards for aesthetic and conceptual quality while fulfilling the City’s collecting mission. Chronologically, collecting efforts focus primarily on the period from 1900 to the present. Geographically, the collecting range of the Civic Art Collection is primarily national with a focus on the San Diego region. The City limits its collecting efforts to artworks that are designed or specified by artists.