History and mission

See where we’ve been and learn where we dream of going next. 

Background 

Founded in 1926, the Alberta University of the Arts has become a significant contributor to visual culture in Canada and around the world. The college is known for its world-class facilities, award-winning faculty, and the talent and professionalism of its graduates. 

Originally called the Alberta College of Art (ACA), the college was initially part of what is now the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). While the two campuses still border each other, ACA officially separated from SAIT in 1985 to become an autonomous, free-standing, publicly funded art and design college. 

​​AUArts History image

AUArts through the years

  • 1958 – The Alberta College of Art Gallery opens (and is later renamed Illingworth Kerr Gallery to honour the former school head). 
  • 1960 – AUArts is originally Alberta College of Art (ACA), the Art department of Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). 
  • 1973 – ACA moves into its new, purpose-built building next to the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. 
  • 1985 – Responding to the call of students, ACA formally separates from SAIT, becoming a self-governing, publicly funded art and design college. 
  • 1995 – ACA is granted degree accreditation to award Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees. It also changes its name to Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD) to recognize the separateness and importance of design education. 
  • 2000 – ACAD launches its Bachelor of Design program. 
  • 2015 – ACAD launches its new Masters of Fine Arts in Craft Media program.  
  • 2018 – The Alberta Government announces on March 1, 2018 that the college has achieved university status based on the quality of its programs.  
  • 2019 – On February 1, 2019, the university receives its new name and visual identity as Alberta University of the Arts.

Bachelor degree program development 

In 1995, the Alberta College of Art was granted degree accreditation by the Government of Alberta, enabling the college to award Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. The college changed its name to Alberta College of Art and Design the same year, to recognize the separateness and importance of design education. In 2000, ACAD launched its Bachelor of Design degree program. 

ACAD achieves university status and transitions to AUArts

The Alberta Government announced that ACAD achieved university status based on the high-quality programs it offers on Thursday, March 1, 2018.  

On Thursday, January 17, 2019,  Alberta College of Art + Design transitioned to Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts). 

The Association of Independent Colleges of Art + Design (AICAD)

Alberta University of the Arts is a full member of AICAD – the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design – a non-profit consortium of the leading art schools in the US and Canada. It was founded in 1991 by a group of 25 presidents who felt a need for the similarly structured art schools to come together so as to mutually develop their schools and programs. AICAD's mission is to help strengthen the member institutions individually and collectively, and to inform the public about the value of studying art and design. 

MFA program launch 

In 2015, AUArts will accept its first graduate students to its new Master of Fine Arts in Craft Media program, furthering its mission to be a leading centre for education and research and a catalyst for creative inquiry and cultural development.