Hamilton College displays a limited amount of public art on the campus. Some public art is on permanent display and some is displayed for a defined period of time. Potential donors interested in making a gift of public art should be advised that Hamilton College has limited space/storage for gifts of this type and the Committee (defined below) will be selective and practical in their decision-making process.  It is not possible to accept all proposed gifts due to space limitations and maintenance requirements. Generally only art that has a direct connection to Hamilton and its history will be accepted.

Public Art is defined as works of art that are paintings, sculpture, collages, posters/prints, drawings, glassware, antiques, wood carvings, student art, faculty art, murals, photography, video, electronic media, and objects (in clay, fiber, textiles, metal, plastic, or any other material) donated to or purchased for the College for public display, or created by Hamilton students, faculty, or staff for public display.

This policy applies to potential gifts of art to the Trustees of Hamilton College and does not apply to the Wellin Museum, Special Collections, the Rare Book Room, or the Archives.  Potential gifts of art to the Museum should be directed to the Wellin Museum staff.  Inquiries about potential gifts to the Rare Book Room or Archives should be directed to the appropriate staff in those offices.

Gifts of public art that the donor agrees the College can sell have a different acceptance protocol.

Authority and Responsibility

Authority for public art on the Hamilton College campus resides with the Committee on Public Art (CPA). While potential donors may approach many offices of the College, without exception, all offers of works of public art must be vetted by the CPA. The CPA meets quarterly to review proposed gifts, address any areas of concern about public art installations, and make recommendations to the College’s senior staff concerning the acceptance or rejection of, installation, and oversight for Public Art on the Hamilton campus.

Members of the CPA are appointed by the President of the College, advise the President and senior staff, and include:

  • Vice President, Administration & Finance  (serves as the Committee Chair)
  • Director of The Wellin Museum of Art
  • A faculty member appointed by the Dean of Faculty
  • A representative of the Office of the Dean of Faculty
  • Vice President of Advancement
  • Executive Director, Advancement Operations
  • Director and Curator of Special Collections and Archives
  • Associate Vice President for Facilities and Planning
  • A student appointed by the Student Association

Responsibilities of the CPA include:

  1. Making a recommendation to the senior staff to accept or decline a proposed installation or gift of public art as well as the time frame for a proposed installation
  2. Advising students, faculty, staff, donor(s) and artist(s) who seek to install works of public art
  3. Working with academic or administrative departments, including Facilities Management, to identify installation sites, ensure that the installation is appropriate for the audiences and exhibited in a manner deemed reasonably safe and secure for the art
  4. Communicating with stakeholders regarding public art
  5. Maintaining an inventory of the College’s works of public art including current location and donor(s)/gift history
  6. Review whether the public art may need to be disposed of or sold/li>

Proposals to the CPA

A prospective donor or department planning to purchase public art must complete a Proposed Gift of Public Art form.  No commitment may be made to a donor or artist prior to review and decision by the CPA.  The requestor must include the reason for making the gift or purchase, a description of the object/item including size/dimensions and condition, the proposed location for installation, the acquisition budget and estimated installation and maintenance costs of the item, and the College department that will be responsible for maintaining the work of art. The form also clearly states that gifts of art are not insured and indicates that the College is not responsible for maintaining the object/item.

The CPA, at its quarterly meeting, will discuss the proposed gift or purchase including an installation site and make a final recommendation to the senior staff to accept or decline the gift. The CPA Chair will convey the decision of the senior staff to the donor or other responsible party.

Art Created by Students

Students often display works of art on campus as part of course work. Student art for these purposes is a work of art installed for a period of time longer than an academic year. If a student wishes to install a piece of their art or make a gift/leave behind a piece of their art after the academic year concludes, a Proposed Gift of Public Art form must be completed and submitted to the CPA for consideration at their quarterly meeting. 

The CPA has the authority to decline these gifts and/or set limits about the time frame of the installation.  The responsible faculty member will be charged with communicating with the student about the art should any issues arise related to the installation.

The College does not normally retain student works of art in perpetuity. When the disposal of a piece of student art is necessary, an agent of the CPA will notify the student/alumni/ae donor by US Mail at the last known primary mailing address above. Such correspondence will advise the student or alum of the deadline for making provisions to collect the work of art and warn the creator that the failure to do so in the time specified will result in its disposal. 

Questions about this policy should be addressed to the Vice President, Administration and Finance.

Version 1.0
Last Reviewed August 19, 2019

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