Cal Poly to Exhibit a Curated Selection of Artifacts by Renowned Architect Julia Morgan

SAN LUIS OBISPO – The Cal Poly College of Architecture and Environmental Design is proud to announce “Julia Morgan, Architect: Challenging Convention,” which will open to the public Saturday, Jan. 15, and run through Friday, Feb. 11.

The exhibit features curated artifacts from Special Collections and Archives at Cal Poly’s Kennedy Library, and highlights original drawings, photographs, and correspondences from Morgan’s personal and professional papers.

“Julia Morgan was revered for her versatility and the lasting value of her architecture,” said Associate Professor of Architecture Jennifer Shields, who co-curated the exhibit with Director of Special Collections Jessica Holada. “This exhibit will illuminate her study and practice, highlight her innovative designs, and reveal her relationships with her contemporaries, her influences, and those she influenced.”

“Julia Morgan, Architect: Challenging Convention” reveals Morgan’s integration of diverse and seemingly unrelated styles and technologies as she fostered collaborative relationships with her clients. Additionally, many artifacts will be brought to life by actors, featuring a series of voiceovers that tell the story of the challenges Morgan encountered in Paris and throughout her career. 

The exhibit will be held at Cal Poly’s University Art Gallery in the Dexter Building (No. 34), Room 171, and remain open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. An interactive virtual tour mirrors the exhibition online and will also be open to the public through April 30. 

Morgan was the first woman to be accepted to and graduate from the prestigious architecture program at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1904, she became California’s first female licensed architect and continued to break gender barriers throughout her career. 

As one of America’s most prolific architects, Morgan designed more than 700 buildings, including Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. In another first, she was the initial woman to receive the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, the profession’s highest honor, bestowed posthumously in 2014.

About Cal Poly’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design

With more than 1,900 students, Cal Poly’s acclaimed College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) offers a unique blend of eight degree programs in five closely related departments: architectural engineering; architecture; city and regional planning; construction management; and landscape architecture. For 75 years, the CAED and its 16,000 alumni have been a positive influence on the forces that shape the planning, design and construction worlds. Learn more at

About Cal Poly

Founded in 1901 and part of the renowned California State University system since 1960, Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, comprehensive polytechnic public university located in San Luis Obispo, California. Known for its Learn by Doing approach, small class sizes and open access to expert faculty, Cal Poly is a distinctive learning community whose 22,000 academically motivated students enjoy an unrivaled hands-on educational experience that prepares them to lead successful personal and professional lives.


Top: Julia Morgan’s “assignment sketch” of an interior elevation, created while studying at École des Beaux-Arts, circa 1900. Image courtesy of Julia Morgan Papers, Special Collections, California Polytechnic State University

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