Skip to main content

Thomas Macaulay Collection

Identifier: MS-496

Scope and Content

The Thomas Macaulay Collection is organized into two series. The first series pertains to Macaulay's local area (Dayton) and state-wide exhibits. The second series concerns Macaulay's national exhibits. There are instances where the same art works, featured in both series, were showcased - either at the local, state or national level around the same time period.

Series I, Local and State Exhibits and Performances (1973-2014), are organized chronologically and contain several exhibit catalogs, exhibit photographs/negatives, mounted photograph documentation of the work Environment for Wright State University, Wright State University Bell Tower model, news articles regarding Macaulay's artwork, artist statements, resume, exhibit postcards and posters, sketches and multi-media designs. Of note exhibits include: The National Endowment for the Arts Regional Fellowship Exhibition, 1979-1981; Statewide Sculptural Competition, 1980; Sculptural Views on Perceptual Ambiguity, 1968-1986; Circle Works Series Installations.

Series II, National Exhibits and Performances (1961-2010), are organized chronologically and contain several exhibit catalogs, exhibit photographs/negatives, news and journal articles regarding Macaulay's artwork, artist statements, sketches, blueprints, awards, Macaulay's Master's thesis, video portion of TOP/BOTTOM/LEFT/RIGHT performance in three formats (open video reel, VHS and DVD), the guide and signs used in the TOP/BOTTOM/LEFT/RIGHT performance, mounted photo documentation of Phantom Truck, 1971 and Landing, 1972 and Macaulay's Fulbright Japan-United States Educational Commission memento. Of note exhibits include: Portable Fall - An Unfinished Work, Dispersepctives, Reality of Illusion, and Aspects of Perception.


  • Creation: 1961-2014
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-1990


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biography of Thomas Macaulay

Thomas Macaulay was born in 1946 in Marshfield, WI. When Macaulay was a young boy his family moved to Fargo, ND. He earned a B.A. as an art major with a concentration in sculpture from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Upon graduating in 1968, he entered the University of Iowa earning a M.A. in Art (Sculpture) in 1969 and an M.F.A in Art (Multimedia and Intermedia) in 1971.

In the early 1970s, while teaching courses in Art Forms and Intermedia at the University of Iowa, Macaulay was a member of the Rockefeller Foundation funded by the University of Iowa Center for New Performing Arts, working in a form termed 'visual performance.' In individual and collaborative time-based works, he integrated elements of visual art and alternative theatre. Macaulay feels that this experience of using time as a medium influenced all of his subsequent work. His artistic interest is in the process of perception and audience interaction. He has investigated these topics as the subject of his art for over forty years.

Beginning in the early 1970s, then exclusively from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, and again in the 2000s, Macaulay combined elements of visual art and interior architecture into a form termed 'site-specific, environmental installation'- that is, a temporary artwork (installation) into which viewers physically enter (environment), which is designed for a particular existing space (site-specific). From the early 1980s to the early 1990s Macaulay used black, wrinkled construction paper, black masking tape and black pushpins, as well as existing, white 'gallery furniture' - portable walls pedestals, platforms, etc. - to make two dozen works in the Circle Series. Then from the early 2000s to the early 2010s, he used corrugated cardboard container, white 18' cubes and brown 3' cubes, to make a dozen works in the Box Series. This indoor site-specific installation was done while maintaining two, ever-changing, outdoor site-based, altered and enhanced environments. He integrated aspects of visual art and landscape architecture into outdoor, site-based, altered and enhanced environments in the early 1970s, then exclusively from the early 1990s - early 2000s. This type of sculpture is ever changing, as the plant materials, shrubs and trees mature and the landscape requires ongoing maintenance.

Macaulay has worked in the visual art forms of drawing, printing, photography and video and visual performance. He has exhibited his work throughout the United States. One-person exhibitions of his work have been hosted by alternative galleries (Artemisia, Chicago; PS1, NYC), commercial galleries (OK Harris, NYC; Twinning, NYC), university galleries (The University of Delaware, Harvard University) and museums (The Dayton Art Institute, The Contemporary Museum Honolulu). Group exhibitions have included Reality of Illusion (organized by the Denver Art Museum and the University of Southern California) and Aspects of Perception (organized by Virginia Commonwealth University and Bard College).

From 1973 - 2012, Macaulay was employed at Wright State University (WSU) as an Art Professor responsible for undergraduate level courses in Sculpture, Expanded Media - environmental installation and visual performance and Studio Foundation. While at WSU, Macaulay served on several University, College of Liberal Arts, and Department of Art and Art History committees. During Macaulay's tenure, the Asian Cultural Council, the Fulbright Commission, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and WSU awarded Macaulay travel and artists residency opportunities. He traveled widely to study art and architecture from ancient periods to contemporary works. Some of these trips included stays in China, Egypt, England, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and Turkey.


16.5 linear feet

Language of Materials



Wright State University Special Collections and Archive have partnered with the College of Liberal Arts Department of Art and Art History to document the history and development of art education at Wright State University. A key element in this project is to also collect the history of the department's wider relationship with the art community of Dayton and the Miami Valley. Thomas Macaulay, visual artist and WSU Professor Emeritus has exhibited his work throughout the Miami Valley, the state of Ohio and the nation. The collection includes exhibit catalogs, notes, sketches, photographs, videos and newspaper clippings documenting his numerous art exhibits and performances.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged in 2 series:

  1. Series I: Local and State Exhibits and Performances, 1973 - 2014
  2. Series II: National Exhibits and Performances, 1961 - 2010

Technical Requirements

VHS and DVD player are required to view the TOP/BOTTOM/LEFT/RIGHT performance. The digitized copy of TOP/BOTTOM/LEFT/RIGHT performance is in the e-archives (ms496_e0001).

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to the Wright State University Special Collections and Archive by Thomas Macaulay on March 8, 2014.


Future additions to the collection are possible.

Related Material

MS-188, Milton Caniff Drawings

MS-279, American Society of Aviation Artists Collection

MS-469, Ray Must Collection

Separated Material

The book titled New Art was cataloged separately and is available on the Third Floor of Paul Laurence Dunbar Library - Oversize N6493 1980.N48 1990 C.1. Oversize materials concerning TOP/BOTTOM/LEFT/RIGHT performance, Three Folds Revealing a Line, Portable Fall, Environmental Installation, and Aspects of Perception, as well as a lithograph proof are located at MedSci building, Location 187, files 1-3 and 2. Oversize materials concerning Wright State University Bell Tower model are located at MedSci Building in Film Vault.

Processing Information

Processed by Elise Kelly, April 2015.

Guide to the Thomas Macaulay Collection (MS-496)
Elise Kelly
2015 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA