The permanent collection of art at Calvin University consists of over 1,800 works of art dating from the 16th century to present. Early pieces are drawn from European painting and Japanese printmaking schools, while the more recent works are heavily represented by local and regional American artists. The university also collects and exhibits many works created by members of the university's alumni and faculty. In addition, a number of small specialized collections have been developed around the themes of The Prodigal Son, Light, and Japanese/Christian aritst Sadao Watanabe.

Permanent collection gallery

The Center Art Gallery includes a gallery dedicated to displaying work from the permanent collection. During the 2017–2018 season, the gallery features a selection of The Donna Spaan Collection of Contemporary Art, as well as works by Calvin alumni artists.

(Click below to view full image.)

Image credit above: Dania Grevengoed (BFA 2015)

The Prodigal Son joins the permanent collection

In 2008-2009, Larry and Mary Gerbens donated their collection of prodigal son artwork to their alma mater Calvin University. To celebrate this gift, the Calvin University Center Art Gallery held an exhibit in conjunction with the Calvin Symposium on Worship. These pieces joined the university's permanent collection and are available for loan.


To donate artwork or funds towards a piece of art for the permanent collection, please contact Brent Williams.

Restoring masterpieces

Throughout the year, works in the collection that need cleaning and repair are identified and transported to the conservator for treatment. The university continues to retain an excellent working relation with Barry Bauman, an independent conservator who works on oil and acrylic paintings in Chicago.

In 2007, Barn Interior by Egbert van der Poel was sent for cleaning. While Bauman was working on the scene of a woman and child inside a barn he uncovered a flayed pig-a butchered and stretched pig-hanging upside down from a ladder. This discovery gave the painting a new focus and clarified the composition. In addition, the discovery of a signature and date authenticated the work and helped complete a remarkable story. Read more about the discovery at Calvin News and Stories.

Image credit: Egbert van der Poel, Barn Interior (1646)

Exhibition program goals
  1. To provide an ongoing educational opportunity for our students to examine works in detail over a longer period of time
  2. To provide our art history students with an opportunity to research and relate the particular work from our collection to the larger context of a given period or culture
  3. To enhance in a meaningful way the total environment of the University by placing works of art in public spaces thus celebrating our own rich cultural heritage and supporting the activity of our faculty, alumni and other Christians active in the arts

Borrowing art

Artwork in the permanent collection is available for loan. For availability and lending requirements, please inquire with Brent Williams.

Permanent Collection photo gallery