The Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum permanent collection is a visual learning resource and an archive of contemporary culture. Regularly exhibited at the Museum and also often lent to other museums around the world, the collection is unique in its focus and quality among the California State University system collections. Since its foundation as a collecting institution in 1973, when it was called University Art Museum, the Museum has worked with individuals, foundations, business, and governmental agencies to collect over 2,000 objects. When the Museum reopens in 2022 following a two-year facility expansion, the collection will be available in expanded galleries and in new archives and works on paper study rooms.
Recently, the Museum’s advisory board adopted a new code of ethics wherein the following commitment is named: The Board of Advisors is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Advisors will fight against racism and bias and support the Museum in its efforts to be anti-racist and anti-biased. With this in mind and cognizant that museums play an extraordinary role in shaping how the human community thinks about identity, who makes and what gets called art, what art should be in museums, and other important topics, the collections and acquisitions committees of the Museum have created a new collections priorities document that will guide the Museum as it adds additional works of art to the permanent collection.
Though far from exhaustive, the following is a descriptive list of important sub-collections within the larger permanent collection of the Museum.
Cal State Long Beach Outdoor Sculpture
Situated throughout the University’s lush 320−acre midcentury modern campus, the outdoor sculpture collection is the Museum’s oldest collection. The original collection of nine sculptures began in 1965 with the California International Sculpture Symposium. Notably, this was the first event of its kind in the U.S. and the first ever to be held on a college campus. Spearheaded by former sculpture professor Kenn Glenn, it represents a significant multidisciplinary experiment through its integration of public art practice with innovative science and industrial technology and production. Each artist invited to participate in the Symposium was paired with an industrial sponsor that provided technological assistance in the form of expertise, access to facilities, equipment, and materials. Many of these collaborations inspired new industrial and artistic techniques. This landmark collection is incorporated into the campus masterplan designed by architect Edward A. Killingsworth. Since the Symposium, the collection has grown to over 20 works and constitutes an essential element in the Museum’s programmatic commitment to supporting innovative use of materials. Sculptures by Maren Hassinger, Robert Irwin, Nancy Holt, Maxine Stussy, and Michael Davis are among later acquisitions to the collection.
Complementing the sculpture collection are large murals by Rita Letendre, Terry Schoonhoven, and Millard Sheets.
Currently paused due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, the Museum usually offers guided tours and resources for self-guided exploration. Until tours resume, you may follow a self-guided walking tour using the Outdoor Sculpture Collection map.
Gordon F. Hampton Collection
This historically significant collection features 89 works by 43 artists. The Hampton Collection include works by Adolph Gottlieb, Gillian Ayers, Richard Diebenkorn, Nancy Graves, Ellsworth Kelly, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Emerson Woelffer, Al Held, Michael Goldberg, Adolph Gottlieb, and Milton Resnick. A highlight of the collection are five exceptional paintings by Lee Krasner including What Beast Must I Adore (1961), Cornucopia (1958), Stretched Yellow (1955), Gothic Frieze (1950), and an untitled painting from 1938.
Gordon F. Hampton (1912−1996) was a renowned Los Angeles antitrust attorney, an art patron, philanthropist, and one of the original partners in the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP. Hampton fostered his expansive interest in art as he traveled the world assembling a notable and distinctive collection of primarily Modern American painting. The collection was donated to the museum in 1999.
Works On Paper Collection
In 1979, the Museum began to regularly acquire works on paper with modest acquisition funds augmented by university allocations, grants, and private donations. Many objects were purchased or gifted from the Centric series of exhibitions held at University Art Museum—these include works by Susan Rothenberg, David Levinthal, Lorna Simpson, Barbara Kasten, and Jim Dine among others from the nearly seventy Centric exhibitions hosted by the museum to date. Other highlights include works by Patrick Wilson, Walton Ford, Kim Abeles, John Baldessari, Sam Francis, George Segal, John Altoon, Lita Albuquerque, and Pat Steir.
Within the works on paper collection are photographs by Graciela Iturbide, Eugenia Vargas, Edward Steichen, Sidney Felsen, Andy Warhol, William Wegman, Lucas Samaras, Eileen Cowin, Candida Höfer, Judy Fiskin, Joel Meyerowitz, Eva Rubinstein, Julius Schulman, Christina Nguyen, and Arthur Tress.
Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Collection
An extensive and diverse body of paintings and drawings by visual artist and poet Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld are held by the Museum. Campagna Kleefeld’s multi-disciplinary oeuvre spans stylistic genres while exploring intuitive, symbolic expressionism relative to her lived experience. Alongside a collection of drawings, paintings, and mixed media works, the Museum holds a portion of its namesake’s archives, collected art works by other artists, editions of her literary works, and endowed funds for scholarship and programming.