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black and white photo of students in auditorium
black and white photo of students in auditorium
Walk down SVA’s Memory Lane
From C&I School’s Humble Origins to the Modern-Day SVA We Know and Love

1947

Original logo for sva


SVA Founded as Cartoonists and Illustrators School

Silas H. Rhodes and illustrator Burne Hogarth (Tarzan) co-found the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, with New York City-based professionals working in the arts as faculty, a practice that continues to this day.

1956

SVA promotional poster from the 50s


C&I Renamed School of Visual Arts

Reflecting a belief that there is more to art than technique, and that learning to become an artist is not the same as learning a trade, Silas H. Rhodes renames the institution the School of Visual Arts.

1960

salvador dali giving a lecture


SVA Finds a Permanent Address

SVA moves to its current location at 209 East 23rd Street. Besides classrooms, the new building affords space for exhibitions, lectures, symposiums and panel discussions. Over the years a wide range of guests, from Muhammed Ali to Salvador Dali to Meryl Streep to David LaChapelle, have filled the halls.

1967

front of sva photography building


SVA Opens New Photography Studios

A building at 214 East 21st Street, to be used primarily for photography, is acquired. Twenty-five years later, 15,000 square feet in the BFA Photography Department undergoes renovation to house the latest digital imaging technology, shooting studios and printing facilities.

1969

art gallery opening


Visual Arts Museum Opened

The Visual Arts Museum is established, furthering the College's active participation in the artistic life of New York City. In keeping with SVA's commitment to innovation, the museum hosts exhibitions that might not find expression elsewhere.

1972

student using movie camera


SVA Authorized to Confer BFA Degree

New York State Board of Regents authorizes SVA to confer the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film, Fine Arts, Media Arts and Photography, making it the first proprietary school in the state to be recognized. Silas H. Rhodes becomes the College's first president.

1975

student receiving a diploma


SVA Introduces Academic Advisement

A new system of academic advisors is created to expand and improve all facets of counseling for students and to support the services offered by academic offices. This groundbreaking system flourishes over the decades and continues today.

1978

black and white photo of man with glasses


David Rhodes Named President

In August, David Rhodes is installed as the second president of the School of Visual Arts, just months after the College receives accreditation by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

1979

Cover of illustration book


BFA Illustration and Cartooning Department Portfolio Inaugurated

The inaugural issue of Portfolio, a book comprising postcards showcasing the wide range of talent from the BFA Illustration and Cartooning Department, is produced. For more than 30 years, it has successfully presented the work of seniors to creative professionals at advertising agencies, design firms and publishing houses.

1980

promotional poster for studying abroad


International Studies Programs Established

In the Fall of 1980, SVA announces the opening of its first International Studies program to be established in Tangier, Morocco. Sixty students participate in the first summer six-week program.


SVA continues to offer Arts Abroad programs in China, France, Greece, Italy, Puerto Rico, Spain and Turkey.

1983

student looking at art installation


SVA Offers First Master of Fine Arts Degree

SVA opens its first graduate program, a Master of Fine Arts in painting, drawing and sculpture. In 2013, SVA opened the MFA in Visual Narrative Department, bringing the total number of graduate programs to 20.

1983

two women looking at a painting


MFA Students Open Their Studios to The Public

The MFA Fine Arts department invites the New York art community to its first Open Studios. Today, students in both graduate and undergraduate programs open their studios to the public, showing their work in a festive atmosphere and often transforming the spaces themselves into works of art.

1994

photo of ocean and rocks


Visual Opinion Launched

Students begin publishing Visual Opinion, a magazine featuring student work and essays about current art issues. Students take responsibility for all aspects of editorial content, design and artwork, gaining valuable experience in both the artistic and business aspects of producing a magazine.

1995

car made to look like giant phone


Yugo Next Exhibition Premieres

Yugo Next premieres at Grand Central Terminal in NYC. The exhibition features various transfigurations of the Yugo automobile into such objects as a toaster and a grand piano. Created by students and alumni of the College's 3D design program, the show becomes the first of an ongoing series of public art presentations.

1996

student at career fair


Internship for Credit Program Established

The Office of Career Development initiates an Internship for Credit program that offers qualifying students opportunities to work in their field of study, gaining hands-on experience outside of the classroom for studio elective credit.

1997

masquerade ball


SVA Turns 50

SVA celebrates its 50th anniversary by holding major events, ranging from a citywide "Arts Awareness Week" to an Artist's Masked Ball at the 69th Regiment Armory, famous as the venue for the 1913 art show that introduced a shocked America to Modernism.

2003

President David Rhodes with Milton Glaser in front of one of David's photographs


David Rhodes' 25th Anniversary as President

SVA honors David Rhodes on his 25th anniversary as president of the College.

2003

gallery view of SVA Galleries booth at Untitled, Art Fair, San Francisco


SVA Initiates Annual Art Fair Appearances

The Visual Arts Gallery expands its reach to the international art community by exhibiting the work of recent graduates at leading art fairs, helping launch the careers of emerging artists from around the world. All proceeds from sales are turned over to the participating artists, who gain experience in curation, installation and promotion.

2004

three people spelling sva with their hands


Visual Arts Gallery Relocates to Chelsea

The College affirms its commitment to presenting the work of students in proximity to the nation's leading artists by moving the Visual Arts Gallery from SoHo to Chelsea. The gallery opens with Beginning Here: 101 Ways, an exhibition of works by 101 artists whose career began at SVA.

2008

three girls hanging out in dorm room


Ludlow Residence Opened

To keep up with the demand for on-campus living, SVA opens a residence hall in the bustling Lower East Side. The ludlow Residence is the college's fifth residence hall.

2009

artist talk in auditorium


SVA Theatre Unveiled

With striking designs by Milton Glaser, the SVA Theatre is a significant addition to the College. It is both a state-of-the-art multimedia facility and an open platform where art, culture, education and industry intersect. The venue offers original programming to the New York creative community.

2011

Installation shot of the SVA BFA Fine Arts Bio-Lab.  Scientific specimens, miscroscopes, plant samples and fish tanks visible.

Nature and Technology Laboratory Unveiled

BFA Fine Arts opens a state-of-the-art wet lab—one of only a handful of such facilities offered in art schools around the world—where students can experiment in the creation of BioArt. Here, students can visualize scientific knowledge whether drawing from skeletal remains, using imagery derived through microscopes or incorporating living materials into their work.


2012

g.i. jobs


SVA Named Military Friendly School

SVA is named one of the top colleges and universities for veterans in the U.S. by G.I. Jobs, which surveyed more than 8,000 schools across the nation to determine which institutions are most welcoming and offer the best value. The list reflects institutional support in the form of veterans’ counselors and advisors, clubs and networking opportunities, schedule flexibility, and scholarships and tuition discounts.

2012

people having a meeting


SVA Offers First Master of Arts Degree

SVA offers its first Master of Arts degree in Critical Theory and the Arts. The program brings together leading minds in philosophy, sociology and art criticism to examine critical theory in relation to contemporary culture and the arts.

2014

SVA Office in Korea.


SVA Opens Offices in Seoul and Shanghai

To support the growing ranks of students and alumni from South Korea and China, the College opens offices in Seoul and Shanghai, where members of the SVA community can meet to network, celebrate each other's work and attend lectures and workshops. 

2015

hard hats with sva logo


College Begins Work on 24th Street Residence

In the spring of 2015, SVA officials gather with federal, state and local government representatives to break ground on a new residence hall, at 407 First Avenue at 24th Street, in the fall of 2016. The 150,000-square-foot, 14-story building features accommodations for more than 500 students, as well as a landscaped roof garden, indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces and conference facilities, among other amenities.

2017

Entry of SVA Welcome Center, brightly colored artwork lines the walls.

SVA Opens Welcome Center

A purpose-built, two-story space opens at 342 East 24th Street immediately next door to the 24th Street Residence, SVA's newest and largest residence hall. Housing the Admissions, Financial Aid and Student Accounts offices, this facility integrates with Student Affairs and the International Student Office, which moved to the 24th Street Residence in 2016, effectively making the location the student enrollment center for the College

2018

Image of diverse group of students layered with bright colors

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force Created

When SVA released its five-year strategic plan, issues of diversity, equity and inclusion emerged as the prevailing challenges and opportunities facing the College. The plan immediately led to the establishment of the DEI Task Force—a group of faculty, staff and administrators charged with developing initiatives and efforts to better engage SVA's Black, Indigenous and people of color members—as well as the opening of a new role in the administration for a director of diversity, equity and inclusion.


2020

Painting of a red carnation on a surgical mask.

COVID-19: Responding With Creativity and Resilience

In response to the unfathomable challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, SVA quickly pivoted to online instruction midway through its spring 2020 semester, and produced a series of virtual events including Accepted Students Day, numerous thesis events and Commencement. To help document this period in time, students, alumni and faculty created and submitted digital images of their art to the SVA COVID Collection, established and maintained by the SVA Archives. In September, the College began its first full academic year to be taught online.  (image by Edgar Barrios, BFA 2021 Design, from the SVA COVID Collection)