Public Art Policy

General Statement

It is the intent of the University Libraries to provide an aesthetically pleasing environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors that is conducive to the pursuit of intellectual study and cultural enrichment. To that end the University Libraries welcomes opportunities to display art within the public areas in its facilities.

This public art policy covers gifts of art to the Libraries or art purchased for the Libraries by donors as well as art currently on display in the Libraries. The policy also covers the temporary, long term loan to the Libraries of art pieces for display from a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill department or unit, or an individual. Further, this policy covers exhibitions hosted by the University Library in public exhibition spaces. The specific guidelines for such exhibits are detailed in the Hosted Exhibits Policy . Art accessioned as part of the Libraries’ collections and not intended for public display is not covered by this policy. The short term display of artwork, including UNC-Chapel Hill student artwork, is covered in the UNC Libraries Hosted Exhibits Policy referenced above.

This policy covers all of the Libraries administered by the University Librarian and Associate Provost for University Libraries, with the exception of the Health Sciences Library and the Kathrine R. Everett Law Library.

The Library Public Art Committee

The Library Public Art Committee (LPAC) is composed of Library staff members. The Committee is charged with providing advice and counsel regarding the addition, location and installation, physical welfare and security of all donated and purchased artworks displayed in public areas and within general office spaces, such as hallways, entrances, conference rooms, and other common staff areas within the University Library; the decision to relocate existing art and where to display or store pieces designated for relocation; and other special projects, identified as need arises.


When a library or library unit is offered a piece of fine art for display in a public area, the librarian in charge will contact the Chair of the Public Art Committee with a brief description of the art and any special needs or special circumstances related to the gift or long-term loan. The Chair will alert the University Librarian and Director of Library Development, together they will determine how best to involve the Library Public Art Committee.

The Library Public Art Committee shall advise the University Librarian on works of art to be accepted for display in public areas. During its discussion and information-gathering process, the LPAC will consult with the unit head and other appropriate parties. The LPAC will summarize the recommendations and forward them to the University Librarian. In addition to making a recommendation on acceptance, the Committee will recommend the most appropriate location for the art piece in question. The Committee also may advise on the style of framing (in the case of a painting or photograph, etc.) or the style of a pedestal base that might be required for a piece of sculpture. The Committee will work with Libraries Facilities staff on security and/or display issues.

The Committee can also offer guidance on the preparation and production of interpretation to accompany artworks such as labels or introductory text panels.

The Library Public Art Committee will be advised by the Library Development Office on selections of artwork as well as art donations which are related to the Library Development Program.

Acceptance of Art Guidelines

Display of public art is an important part of providing welcoming and amenable facilities and is an enriching aspect of the Libraries’ service, educational, and outreach programs.

The decision to accept artwork for display in the Libraries rests entirely with the Libraries. Upon acceptance, the Libraries will make all decisions regarding placement, length of time for the display, publicity, and display removal.

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

  • Exhibit any donated object in a manner that is consistent with University Libraries’ policies, needs, and available space. Acceptance of a work of art does not imply that it will be on permanent public display.
  • Return loaned art to the owning University department or to the individual owner upon recommendation by the Library Public Art Committee and approval of the University Librarian.
  • Move and relocate art work for any reason it deems necessary.

Gifts of Artwork

The University Library 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 Library by the donor or artist unless those limitations or conditions are approved by the Library Public Art Committee or the University Librarian.

Title to all gifts of art will pass to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Library. Gifts to the Library remain outright and unrestricted donations to be used according to the sole discretion of the Library. Such art works will be used to the best interest of the Library.

Donors who wish to receive a tax credit are responsible for getting an appraisal. By law, the University Library cannot provide value estimates on gift material. The Library Development Office and the Chair of the Library Public Art Committee will work together to 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.

Long-term Temporary Loan of Artwork

In addition to gifts of art or art purchased for the Library by donors, the Library will also evaluate the long-term temporary loan of art pieces for display from a University department or unit, or art owned by an individual.

Long-term loans of art pieces for display will be covered by a written agreement (Loan Agreement) that includes the details for duration, placement, security, and return of the item when the loan is over. Title of loaned materials will remain with the lending department or person. The care, security, and preservation of artwork that is loaned for display in the Library will be the responsibility of the owner, whether that entity is a department or an individual.

Selection Criteria for Artworks

Overall, the University Libraries have limited space for the display of art, and therefore it is important to consider very carefully the acceptance of a piece of art for long-term loan or as a gift. Some Library units are in a position to house more works of art, and in these cases, they should make their situation known to the LPAC. Also, there may be some pieces or collections of art that are suitable for rotating among the different Libraries.

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

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.

Durability: Works of art will be examined for durability, taking the library 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 library setting.

Installation/Maintenance costs: When selecting a work of art to purchase or determining if a gift may be accepted, the Libraries will take into consideration any security 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.

Public liability: Works will not be selected or accepted that create unsafe conditions or contain other factors that may bear on public liability.

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

Libraries Discretion: The University Library, in its sole discretion, will determine whether to review and accept or reject any gift or proposed artwork.

Questions about this policy should be referred to the Chair of the Library Public Art Committee. Responsibility for revising this policy rests with the Library Public Art Committee.

Last reviewed and updated: May 2015