Over the past decade, many university leaders and donors have come to the same conclusion: investment in the arts is essential to building a competitive institution in an increasingly global world. This year, around half a dozen new museums and arts centres are opening on campuses across the country, from Columbia University in New York to Rice University in Texas. They come on the heels of recently completed projects at Stanford in California, Harvard in Massachusetts and Yale in Connecticut.
This multi-million-dollar investment in culture is fuelled by several factors: administrators’ recognition that the arts can promote nimble thinking, student demand and donor co-operation. “Stanford made this analysis that the arts and creativity were going to be absolutely vital to the next generation of problem solvers, of people who could understand different perspectives and what it means to bring something new into the world,” says Matthew Tiews, the university’s associate dean for the advancement of the arts.