Facilities and Resources of the School of Art and Design

Space in which to create is essential for any successful art program. The primary facility for the School of Art and Design is Jack Arends Hall (usually called simply the Art Building), a four-story modern structure designed in the late 1960s specifically to house the art program.  The building, first opened in 1970, is located near the campus’ historic East Lagoon.  In addition to offices, exhibition spaces and a Visual Resource Center, Arends Hall houses general classrooms; various computer labs utilized in foundations, graphic design, illustration, digital photo imaging, 3-D printing and time arts courses; and studios and workshops for sculpture, woodworking, ceramics, film photography, drawing, painting, printmaking, and jewelry and metalwork. 

Computer labs, a number dedicated to specific areas of study, are located in each of the upper three floors of Arends Hall. The Art Computer Lab (ACL) on the second floor in the Visual Resource Center (VRC) in AB-217, maintained by the School of Art and Design in collaboration with the university’s Division of Information Technology  (DoIT), supports one 15-seat classroom with software intrinsic to use by art students. The lab is accessible M-Th 8am-8pm, F 8am-2pm, closed weekends, is staffed with student assistants, and supports both PC and Mac computers, complete with Anywhere printing stations. The Visual Resource Center also houses a Mac-based Graduate Student and Faculty Lab. The software in both labs is regularly updated in order to maintain currency and meet the needs of courses ranging from first-year foundations to advanced courses using animation and digital media. The VRC also maintains a 600+ DVD art subject video library and the NIU Digital Art Database of art images, pre-history through contemporary.

Arends Hall is fully wired for on-line internet access in all offices and many classrooms, with additional WiFi access in most classrooms and hallways, providing students with immediate access to classroom materials and digital imagery maintained on networked cloud sites, websites, and course-specific chat rooms.

Five amphitheater-style tiered rooms on the first floor, one a large auditorium, all “smart room” equipped with automated and remote projection systems for slides, video, digital and computer-generated images, serve art history and other lecture format classes.  Additional studio work spaces with specialized professional equipment necessary for advanced work, primarily at the graduate level, are housed in other campus buildings nearby or in two off-campus facilities: the three-story Arts Annex on the northern edge of DeKalb used by students and faculty working primarily in 2-D media, and the Fourth Street Studios, located on the eastern edge of DeKalb used primarily by students in 3-D media.

Students are expected to spend considerable time outside of scheduled classes completing their various art and design projects.  During the regular academic year, the labs and studio spaces of Arends Hall, as well as studio spaces in other buildings dedicated to the art program, are available to students until late evening in order that class projects may be pursued outside of supervised class time.  In addition to the work areas of Arends Hall, most graduate students have private or shared studio space in the off-campus facilities.

Exhibition Spaces 

The School of Art and Design and the NIU Art Museum offer an ambitious program of exhibitions in several gallery spaces on campus.  The Jack Olson Memorial Gallery, named after a former faculty member in art, is situated in the central block of the second floor of Arends Hall.  It has its own full-time gallery coordinator who, working with a faculty committee, schedules a variety of instructional exhibits, undergraduate and graduate student shows, installation events and special lectures and symposia intended to complement the school’s academic program.  Updated information on current and upcoming shows and associated special events can be checked at the Olson Gallery web site. The smaller exhibition space nearby, Gallery 214, is primarily dedicated to the exhibition of work by art students. Student work is additionally shown in wall and hall cases located on each of the four floors.

Students also have the opportunity to show their work in the student-operated exhibition space of the Holmes Student Center and in the gallery space of the Fine Arts House, a university residential dorm in the Neptune North building complex located in the central campus area and specifically reserved for undergraduate students who have declared majors in art, music, or theater and dance.

The offices and gallery spaces of the NIU Art Museum are located in the west wing of Altgeld Hall’s first floor. Altgeld Hall, NIU’s historic first permanent academic building, known in early twentieth-century DeKalb as the “Castle on the Hill,” was totally remodeled over a multi-year period ending in 2004, with the spaces now occupied by the Art Museum specifically reconfigured, redesigned, and secured for its use. Multiple exhibitions and installations are concurrently scheduled in the museum’s galleries by the museum director and staff, featuring the work of major contemporary and regionally significant artists as well as special-focus and thematic exhibitions of contemporary and historic artwork.  Associated lectures and study trips are regularly planned by the museum. The Art Museum also houses a permanent art collection of contemporary prints, paintings, and drawings (with a special focus on work by Chicago artists) and the collection of Burmese art associated with NIU’s nationally prominent Center for Burma Studies.  The Art Museum exhibitions, collections and programs provide an excellent resource for art students.  Contact the NIU Art Museum for up-to-date Information on the exhibitions and programs.

niu | school of art and design
jack arends building
dekalb, il 60115-2883