Kent State Celebrates 50 Years of Early Robert Smithson Land Art Located on Campus

The School of Art Collection and Galleries at Kent State University presents “Acquiring History: The 50-Year Legacy of Robert Smithson’s Partially Buried Woodshed at Kent State University” from Aug. 4 through Sept. 26, 2020, at the Kent State Downtown Gallery. The exhibition includes video interviews from faculty, documentary photographs, essays on the history of the artwork and even the largest known remnant of the woodshed. No opening reception will take place. The exhibition is free and open to the public. An online and printed catalog will be available in addition to an online exhibition.

In January 1970, Kent State School of Art students and faculty welcomed Robert Smithson to Kent State as an artist-in-residence. The event came about through the invitation of several students who wrote to Smithson and invited him, and then worked to make a sculpture during his time on campus. In the years since Smithson visited, his fame and the influence of his artwork has grown. The piece he made here, “Partially Buried Woodshed,” has led an arduous existence, and only a very small remnant of it remains on campus. This exhibit celebrates the 50-year legacy of the work and highlights the student-led activities that helped make this important moment in the history of art happen.

Watch a 2015 video about the “Partially Buried Woodshed.”



The exhibition was organized by Gallery Director Anderson Turner and graduate students Simon Tatum and Marissa Tiroly. “Partially Buried Woodshed” was created at the emergence of what is known as “land art” or “earthworks” and just months before Smithson’s most iconic work “Spiral Jetty” located at the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Smithson died just three years later at the age of 35. 

The Kent State Downtown Gallery is located at 141 E. Main Street in Kent, Ohio.

Gallery Hours:

  • Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
    • 10-11 a.m. reserved for our at-risk guests, please 
  • Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Closed on Sundays

Follow Kent State’s School of Art Collection and Galleries on social media: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. For more information, visit

Read this Spring 2016 Kent State Magazine about the “Partially Buried Woodshed”

About the School of Art

The School of Art at Kent State University was established in 1941 and maintains a tradition of excellence in visual arts education, creation, scholarship and leadership. Its undergraduate and graduate programs in the visual arts offer a range of directions and opportunities in the fields of art education, art history and a comprehensive array of studio disciplines, including painting, drawing, print media and photography, sculpture, ceramics, glass, jewelry/metals/enameling and textiles. The School of Art Collection and Galleries consist of six exhibition spaces located on the Kent Campus and downtown Kent and a collection of more than 4,000 artworks and objects. The School of Art is located at the Center of the Visual Arts at 325 Terrace Drive in Kent. The 27,900-square-foot facility twice the length of a football field – had its grand opening in 2016 and houses all School of Art studios and classrooms under one roof.

# # #

Caption for Left Image:
Robert Smithson (Jan. 2, 1938-July 20, 1973), “Partially Buried Woodshed,” ink on frosted acetate, 1970.

Caption for Right Image:
Robert Swick, one of the Kent State University students who organized Robert Smithson’s artist-in-residence, black-and-white photo, circa January 1970, by Douglas Moore.

Media Contact:
Roza Maille,, 330-672-2260

POSTED: Friday, July 24, 2020 03:37 PM
Updated: Friday, March 31, 2023 05:40 AM
Roza Maille