8.04 Public Art


The purpose of this policy is to establish general guidelines for the acquisition and display of public art placed on campus, and any removal from university holdings of public art.  All public art, as defined below, shall conform to this policy.

Policy Statement

Public art is permanent, long-term, or temporary art in public spaces on campus.  This policy addresses the review, acquisition, and display of public art, and the removal from university holdings of public art.  Public art, acquired through acquisition, or as a gift, should endeavor to expand the educational mission of the university. The Public Art Committee is responsible for the management and stewardship of all public art at the university.  Art collections housed in, and in support of, specific academic units are not included under this policy.


 I.  Definitions:

A)  Public Art shall mean sculpture, fountains, bas-reliefs, mosaics, frescoes, wall hangings, installations, or other enhancements in public spaces on campus, including all outdoor campus space and interior public spaces such as lobbies, social spaces, etc.  It does not include the incidental ornamental detail of functional architectural/structural elements, hardware and other accessories.

B)  State Buildings includes all campus buildings owned, rented, or operated by the university.

II. Public Art Committee

A)  The Public Art Committee shall be responsible for recommending the acquisition and placement of public art on campus as defined in this policy.

B)  Members of the Public Art Committee shall be appointed by the Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations (SVPFO).

C)  The Public Art Committee shall develop by-laws, procedural guidelines, or other operating documents that will outline the process that the committee will use in discharging the responsibilities outlined in this policy.  The SVPFO shall approve the committee’s by-laws, procedural guidelines, or other operating documents every three years.

III. Art in State Buildings

A)  The President of the University of Northern Iowa, or his/her designated representative, may authorize expenditures for public art for State Buildings.  Upon authorization, the Public Art Committee shall be responsible for the selection of public art within the purview of this policy.

B)  The budget for public art shall be sufficient to acquire public art appropriate for the project.  The budget shall include all artist commissions, engineering design, materials and installation costs necessary for the proper acquisition and installation of the piece or pieces.  

C)  Facilities Management shall review and approve proposed locations for public art to identify potential conflicts with building systems, utilities, or other obstacles and shall be responsible for the final coordination with the project.

D)  Selection of public art may be made by public competition of artists.  Preference may be given to the selection of works produced, created, or otherwise made by living or deceased Iowa artists.   

IV. Public Art Donations

A)  From time to time, UNI may accept donations of public art from private persons or entities.  Acceptance of donated public art shall comply with the requirements of this section.

B)  Public art which is to be donated to the university shall be referred to Facilities Management and the Chair of the Public Art Committee for review prior to acceptance by the university.  Facilities Management shall provide consultation on the location of the public art. The Chair of the Public Art Committee shall provide a recommendation as to the acceptability of the proposed donation with regard to the intent of this policy.  The Chair may seek input from the entire committee at the Chair’s discretion. Donations of public art shall include a maintenance endowment of not less than 10% of value of the public art.

V.  Temporary Public Art

A)  Temporary public art is art produced by students, faculty and staff as a part of the educational mission of the university.

B)  Temporary public art may be placed on campus by supervising faculty or staff in consultation with the Public Art Committee and Facilities Management.

C)  Temporary public art may be displayed for not more than 60 days without prior written approval of Facilities Management.

D)  Temporary public art shall be self-supporting and shall not be attached to landscape, hardscape, or building features.

E)  The artist of the temporary public art shall be responsible for the costs associated with installation and decommissioning of their work, including the costs associated with removal of improperly or unauthorized installations.

VI. Acceptance/Rejection, Ownership, and Removal from Holdings

A)  Criteria for Acceptance/Rejection of Public Art:

  1. Proposed art shall display a high level of artistic quality and craftsmanship that supports and enhances the academic and creative mission of UNI.  Distinctive works of art chosen or created for campus public spaces shall be of sufficiently high quality to merit inclusion into the permanent art collection.
  2. The “message” of proposed art, if any, shall be acceptable to current standards and policies of the UNI community.
  3. An appropriate site in campus public space shall be available.
  4. Proposed art shall be structurally sound and present no environmental or safety hazard. If difficulty is encountered in making this determination the Public Art Committee should consult with the Office of Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety.
  5. An external funding source to cover all costs of acquisition, purchase, shipping, installation, wall-to-wall insurance, appraisal, and maintenance shall be determined prior to acceptance.  If sufficient funding is not immediately available, this criterion may be waived in exceptional circumstances by the President.
  6. The donor’s clear title to donated art and authenticity of the work shall be confirmed prior to acceptance.

B)  Ownership

  1. Ownership and acquisition terms will be determined by the standard gift agreement between the university and the donor of public art.  The university, in consultation with the Public Art Committee, reserves the right to sell or donate works of public art.

C)  Criteria for Removal from Holdings

  1. The work is outside the scope of the charter purpose of the campus public art collection and its acquisition policy.
  2. The work does not support the university’s mission or the collecting policy of the collection.
  3. The work lacks physical integrity - the object has been damaged or has deteriorated, rendering it impossible to be conserved properly, or the costs of conservation are prohibitive or outweigh the value to the collection.
  4. The work has failed to retain its identity or authenticity.
  5. The work no longer supports the research, education, or exhibition uses of the collection/university.
  6. There are significant changes to the artwork’s site or campus usage of the area in which it is located irreversibly altering the artist’s original intent.
  7. The current work and or site is in violation of current Iowa or Federal law.
  8. The current work is unsafe or cannot meet current safety standards without modifications that significantly alter the artist’s original intent.
  9. The work is no longer sustainable in terms of cost to maintain and/or operate.

Facilities Management, approved December 12, 2018
University Council, approved February 25, 2019
President and Executive Management Team, approved March 4, 2019
[Last reviewed and/or updated 3/2019, 6/1963]