University Public Art Policy

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Policy Code: 
Approval Authority: 
Policy Type: 
University Policy
Policy Owner: 
Chancellor's Office
Responsible Office: 
General Counsel - 828.251.6821

I. General Statement

It is the intent of the University to provide an aesthetically pleasing environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. To that end the University welcomes opportunities to acquire and display art within the public areas of its facilities.

II. Scope

This public art policy covers art acquired by the University by gift, purchase or loan, and to art loaned by the University.

III. Procedures for Acceptance of Art by Gift or Loan

A. The decision to accept artwork for ownership and/or display at the University ultimately rests with the Chancellor. The Chancellor may delegate any or all of her or his authority and responsibilities under this Policy to another University employee or employees. The Chancellor and/or designee, who will, in turn, also consult with the Aesthetics Advisory Committee on commissions or acquisitions for display in public areas that exceed $5,000 in value. The chancellor and/or designee will also consult with the University Gift Acceptance Committee, as appropriate, before making final decisions.


B. When the University is offered fine art for display in a public area, the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee must be provided with a brief description of the art and any special needs or special circumstances related to the gift or long-term loan. In the case of a proposed gift of art, the proposal will be forwarded to the Gift Acceptance Committee for consideration under the University’s Gift Acceptance Policy. In the case of a loan of art to the University, the proposed loan will be referred to the University’s Aesthetics Advisory Committee which will make recommendations on acceptance of the loan to the Chancellor.


C. Upon acceptance, the University will make all decisions regarding placement, length of time for the display, publicity, and display removal after consultation with the Aesthetics Advisory Committee.


D. When accepting a work of art, the University reserves the right to:


1. Exhibit any donated object in a manner that is consistent with University policies, needs, and available space. Acceptance of a work of art does not imply that it will be on permanent public display.

2. Return loaned art to the individual owner upon recommendation of the Chancellor.

3. Move and relocate artwork for any reason it deems necessary.


E. The following specific procedures shall be followed when considered gifts or loan of art:


1. Gifts of Artwork

The University will consider for acceptance as gifts such pieces of fine art as paintings, sculpture, wall hangings, photographs, and other original works in various media. Gifts of works of art will be accepted without limitations or conditions placed on the University by the donor or artist unless those limitations or conditions are approved by the Chancellor.

Title to all gifts of art will pass to the University. Gifts to the University remain outright and unrestricted donations to be used according to the sole discretion of the University.

Donors who wish to receive a tax credit are responsible for obtaining an appraisal at no expense to the University. By law, the University cannot provide value estimates on gift material. The Chancellor will determine the appropriate process of receipt and acknowledgment for gifts of art. The documentation will identify and acknowledge the gift without appraising the work of art.

2. Loan of Artwork

a. Outgoing Loans

In special circumstances the University may be asked to loan a piece of artwork to another institution. Before any loan is approved, the loan (including insurance) arrangements, and environmental and security controls at the borrowing institution should be thoroughly considered by the University. The approval of the loan is contingent upon an examination of each work of art in question to ascertain whether it can physically withstand the preparation, packing, shipping, and handling that will be required to affect the loan. The final decision to loan a piece of University artwork to another institution ultimately rests with the Chancellor, after consulting with the Aesthetics Advisory Committee, where appropriate.


b. Incoming Loans

Incoming loans of art pieces for display must be covered by a written agreement that includes the details for duration, placement, security, insurance, and return of the item when the loan is over. Title of loaned materials will remain with the lending department or person. The lender is responsible for removing the work at the end of the loan period and for working with the University to restore the venue to its pre-loan condition. In the event that the lender fails to remove the work as agreed or fails or refuses to reclaim it at the end of the loan period, the work shall be deemed to have been abandoned and shall become the sole property of the University. In that event the University may dispose of the work in any manner it deems appropriate without liability to the lender.


IV. Selection Criteria for Artworks

The University has limited space for the display of art, and therefore it is important to carefully consider the acceptance of a piece of art for a short-term or long-term loan or as a gift.

A. Style and nature: The art should be appropriate in scale, material, form and content for the University environment.

B. Quality and Elements of design: Public art may have other functions in addition to aesthetic enjoyment. For example, a work of art may establish a focal point, modify, or enhance a space or identify a building function. As far as possible, the work of art should complement and enhance the building and its purpose. The reputation of the artist may be a factor in the decision.

C. Durability: Works of art will be examined for durability, taking the environment and the condition of the piece into consideration. Extremely fragile items or those that are potential targets for vandalism are not appropriate for the University setting.

D. Installation/Maintenance costs: When selecting a work of art to purchase or determining if a gift may be accepted, the University will take into consideration any security and safety issues, the cost of installation, and the cost of maintaining the work over its lifetime. Start-up and ongoing costs for cleaning and mounting will also be considered.

E. Public liability: Works will not be selected or accepted that create unsafe conditions or contain other factors that may bear on public liability. Where the installation or on-site construction of artwork may pose environmental or safety issues, the University’s Environmental Health & Safety Officer must be consulted before installation begins.

F. Conditions of acceptance: In the case of gifts or donations, the donor's conditions may affect whether or not the gift will be accepted.

V. Procedures for the Deaccession and Disposal of Works of Art

Objects and collections may generally be deaccessioned in accordance with the terms of any applicable gift document or bequest. Any deaccession of a work should be solely for the advancement of the University's mission.

The criteria for determining whether an object should be deaccessioned include, but are not limited to, the following:

A. If the work has been damaged or has deteriorated, and repairs by either a conservator or the artist is impossible or impractical;

B. If the University has received a professional opinion(s) that the work is not authentic or has been misidentified and is no longer important or valuable;

C. If the University is ordered to return an object to its original and rightful owner by a court of law;

D. If the object is no longer useful or relevant to the purposes and activities of the University, if there is a better example of the same work in the collection, or, if its deaccession would allow the University to improve and strengthen another area of the collections such that the University's goals would be furthered by such deaccession;

E. If it is unduly difficult or impossible for the object to be cared for properly, including storage; or if the cost of insuring the object has become prohibitive. The University must ascertain that the deaccession is not legally restricted. Deaccessioning and disposal must comply with all applicable local, state, and United States federal laws in force at the time, and must observe any terms and obligations which pertained to the acquisition of the work by the University.

VI. Documentation, Liability for and Insurance of Artwork

A. Documentation

Through the maintenance of an orderly and retrievable body of information for insurance purposes, the University ensures that its collections are documented. The University considers information contained in its records that relates to the collections and the manner in which they were acquired to be a matter of public record. All art that is accepted by the University must be documented with a brief description of the work and the estimated value for insurance purposes. Art valued at more than $5,000 that will be owned by the University will be included in the University’s fixed assets inventory.

B. Insurance and Liability

Artwork that is either (1) owned by the University or (2) that is on loan to the University for a period of at least six months under a properly authorized loan agreement is covered by the Fine Arts insurance policy purchased by the State of North Carolina. The University is not a guarantor of the security of loaned artwork and will not be responsible for damage or loss except to the extent permitted by the North Carolina Tort Claims Act. The University accepts no liability or responsibility for artwork brought by employees or students onto campus for personal purposes (e.g. to decorate an office or dorm room) unless formally accepted in writing by the University under this policy.