Polk Library Art Collection Policies

Art Collection Policies

The intent of this policy is to define the philosophy, guidelines, management, and procedures that will regulate the development of the Polk Library Art Collection.


Art Collection Focus and Statement

It is the focus of the Polk library Art Collection to contribute to an environment of learning, self-expression, culture and school pride. The Art Collection is to represent the best artistic works of UW Oshkosh students and faculty. A small portion of our collection will include “legacy works” (collected before 2008) that may not be consistent with this collection focus but possess unique ties to the library and significant artistic qualities. The ongoing library collection will be developed through a variety of methods but most commonly through purchases at Art Department events. The collection will be diverse in media and be consistent with the University’s policies and spirit.


Collection Management Policies

Polk Library shall follow the guidelines set forth herein concerning the acquisition and deaccession of art and the loaning and temporary exhibition of art. The activities governing the acquisition, housing, maintenance, care and deaccessioning of this collection will strive to follow the best practices set by museum collections whenever possible. However, as this collection has not been assembled for the same purpose as that of a museum, the library retains the right to address issues on an individual basis according to its own priorities, rather than follow professional museum standards and regulations. It will be the Library’s discretion to determine whether to review and accept or reject any gift or proposed artwork.



An acquisition constitutes the addition of an object to the collection. Acquisition may occur through purchase or donation.



  1. The acquisition should be the original work of UW Oshkosh students, faculty or staff.
  2. The acquisition shall strengthen the collection and be compared to the artist’s best work. The reputation of the artist may be a factor in the decision.
  3. The art work should be in appropriate physical condition
  4. The art should be appropriate in scale, material, form and content. Works cannot be sexually explicit or graphically violent.
  5. The artwork should complement and enhance the building and its purpose.
  6. The artwork should not have burdensome conservation, storage or display needs.
  7. Whether the artwork is framed or unframed and the size will be taken into consideration.
  8. The copyright of all works of art shall be investigated and obtained when possible


Acquisition by Purchase

Polk Library may have funds set aside for the acquisition of art works to display in its building. This will be the principal means in which Polk Library adds to its permanent collection. The following guidelines govern these purchases:

  1. Whenever possible, Polk Library will use its funds to purchase artwork through sales organized exclusively by the University’s Art Department.
  2. In all cases reasonable steps must be taken to acquire works that are being legally sold.
  3. Artwork purchased will be consistent with the broad collecting focus detailed above.
  4. All purchases become the property of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
  5. All artists must sign a deed of gift to the material with minimal to no restrictions on the future use (copyright), display or deaccessioning of the artwork.


Acquisition by Gift

Polk Library will rarely solicit gifts of art and therefore gifts must meet a higher standard of importance or artistic merit to warrant acquisition. Polk Library reviews all proffered gifts to its art collection through its Library Coordinating Committee.

The committee reviews gifts observing the following rules:

  1. The donor provides reasonable assurance that the object has not been exported in violation of another country's laws.
  2. The donor has the legal right (ownership) to dispose of the proffered gift.
  3. All available provenance of an object will be provided to the committee at the time of its consideration and will thereafter be documented as a part of the object's history.
  4. The committee works at all times with the University Archivist to assure that proper documentation, including deed of gift, is recorded and filed for each donation.
  5. When considering a gift, the library is guided by the collection focus and criteria above.
  6. Donors and library staff will work with the UW Oshkosh Foundation in arranging gifts.
  7. All accepted gifts with a value of $5,000 or greater must have an accompanying independent appraisal, provided by the donor if the donor is using the gift-in-kind policy of the UW Oshkosh Foundation.
  8. All accepted gifts become the property of UW Oshkosh
  9. Each donor should be encouraged to provide funding for the ongoing maintenance costs of their gift.
  10. Each donor should be encouraged to make their gift without restrictions or stipulations.



In rare situations, the library may be asked to loan a piece from its collection for an exhibit at another entity outside UW Oshkosh.

The library may allow for such loans under the following rules:

  1. Loan requests from borrowing institutions for works in the Polk Library art collection will be handled through the office of the Library Director
  2. Approval or denial of such loans will be made in consultation with others in and outside of the library
  3. A condition report will be made prior to and after each loan.
  4. A loan contract will be drawn up to follow the loan's progress.
  5. The Borrower shall assume all insurance, conservation, repair and shipping costs.
  6. Loans within the University can be handled less formally on an ad hoc basis.


Library Exhibit Space

On a regular basis, the library displays artwork owned by other individuals or departments. In most cases these exhibits are organized by the UW Oshkosh Art Department. All requests for temporary exhibits are handled by the Library Director’s office.

The following policies govern those temporary exhibits.

  1. Polk Library reserves the right to deny exhibit space to any object or collection it deems to be inconsistent with the spirit of its mission.
  2. The library will not assume risk for these objects at any time during or after their display.
  3. The library will not provide assistance in the installation or removal of the items



Deaccessioning is the process of permanently removing an object from the collection.

The decaccession of items in the Polk Library’s art collection will be done in unique cases. These reasons may include, but are not limited to, the piece being inconsistent with the collection focus; degrading in quality to due age or damage; or requiring burdensome preservation, restoration, or display expenses. Deaccessions may also happen in very unique circumstances when the library concludes that the piece would be more appropriately owned and cared for by another University unit or external agency. Polk Library conducts art deaccessions through its Library Coordinating Committee or its designee.

The committee considers deaccessions observing the following rules:

  1. All deaccessions must be made in accordance with the rules and regulations set forth by state owned property in consultation with the University of Wisconsin System offices.
  2. All deaccessions of gifts must be made in accordance of the donors' wishes at the time of gift if they are known. Polk Library will conduct due diligence to attempt discover these wishes if they are unknown.
  3. Deaccessions may, with the approval of the Coordinating Committee, involve exchanges.
  4. All works to be disposed of will be independently appraised prior to sale and sold for at least the appraised valuation. Exchanges of works of art should include an independent appraisal of all works involved.
  5. Funds realized from disposed works of art will be used to acquire other works of art in the name of the donor of the disposed works of art, thus perpetuating the donor’s name and his/her generosity.
  6. Funds from any sale and investment earnings thereon will be and remain trust assets and held for the benefit of the Polk Library’s Art Collection with disbursement to be made on recommendation of the Library Coordinating Committee.

(Adapted from Indiana University, University of Washington, and Lakehead University Art Collection Policies.)

Effective as of April 2012