Carnegie Mellon University

Artistic Properties Collection

POLICY TITLE: Policy for the Artistic Properties Collection at Carnegie Mellon University
DATE OF ISSUANCE: Approved by the President's Council on April 17, 1995.


Office of the Provost. Questions on policy content should be directed to the Archives & Art Inventory Specialist, University Libraries, ext. 8-7268.


Artistic properties are obtained by donation. Policy details considerations for acquisition and management of the collection.

Policy Statement

The acceptance of all gifts and bequests must be approved by the Archives & Art Inventory Specialist. No commitment will be made as to exhibition, attribution or placement of the gift. While it is the university's intention to accession for long-term use and preservation, no guarantee will be made that the gift or bequest will be retained by the university in perpetuity. All legal and/or tax considerations of related Artistic Properties contributions will be coordinated with the Office of Planned Giving in the Development division.

Reason for the Policy

Works of the fine or decorative arts (artistic properties) are collected and exhibited by Carnegie Mellon University to enhance the quality of life on campus, stimulate education and research, and to preserve such works for posterity. The purpose of the Artistic Properties Committee at Carnegie Mellon is to serve as an advisory body to the University Libraries, which is charged with the responsibility of managing and exhibiting artistic properties owned by the university.

The Artistic Properties Committee

The Artistic Properties Committee is appointed by the president. The members comprising this committee serve in their specialized positions to discuss issues and policies concerning the Artistic Properties Collection. It is the committee's role to oversee the collection, management and exhibition of artistic properties owned by the university.

The committee approves policies and procedures, advises the Archives & Art Inventory Specialist on questions of difficult acquisitions, and approves all dispositions. Any unresolved questions regarding procedures for security, conservation, registration, inventory, storage, installation or other activities applicable to the collection will be referred to the committee. Issues brought before the committee will be put to a vote. The decision of the majority will be honored.

Definition of Artistic Properties

The Artistic Properties Collection of Carnegie Mellon University includes, but is not limited to, paintings on canvas and panel; art works on paper (prints, watercolors, drawings in all media, pastels, photographs, scrolls); works on parchment, papyrus and vellum; sculpture; antique furnishings (furniture, carpets, vases, chandeliers, ceramics, medals, coins, stamps); and anthropological artifacts.

Curated Artistic Properties

The Artistic Properties Collection does not include works of art on campus that are part of a separate university collection or that are curated by another department on campus; that is, catalogued, inventoried and conserved in a controlled environment. Examples of these collections include those managed by the University Libraries (Special Collections), Hunt Institute and the H&SS Advising Center (Adamson Wing). Although these collections are not part of Artistic Properties, the University Libraries are responsible for assessing security and inventory for them.

Acquiring and Maintaining Artistic Properties

Notification of Donations

The Archives & Art Inventory Specialist will be responsible for inventorying and maintaining current accession files of all works of art on campus owned by the university. Therefore, the Archives & Art Inventory Specialist must be notified within 15 working days of the receipt of a donation. Copies of any correspondence relating to the donation must be forwarded to the Archives & Art Inventory Specialist.


Maintenance of the collection includes inventorying and cataloging the holdings, preparation of descriptive labels for display of artistic properties, preservation and restoration, storage of inactive artistic properties, and inventory control.


As an educational institution, Carnegie Mellon University will strive to provide maximum accessibility of the collections to the public. However, factors such as the security, safety and location of the artistic properties must all be taken into consideration when providing access.

Security issues will be addressed when considering the placement of works of art in specific locations at the university. The Archives & Art Inventory Specialist will be responsible for gathering information regarding various security factors and may reject potential locations for the display of artistic properties due to security concerns.

Procedures for Disposition of Artistic Properties

The university must be aware of its role as trustee of the collections for the benefit of the university and its community. However, when it is deemed prudent to do so, the university may consider relinquishing artistic property.

Basic considerations to be addressed in requests for disposition:

  • Is the object no longer relevant or useful to the purpose and activities of the university?
  • Is there danger of not being able to preserve the object properly?
  • Has the object deteriorated beyond usefulness? (To be decided after restoration and conservation procedures have been reviewed.)
  • Is it doubtful that the object can be exhibited or used as a teaching tool in the foreseeable future?
  • Will disposition provide the means for improving or strengthening the collection in order to further the goals of the university?

All requests for disposition, regardless of size, value, etc., of artistic properties must be recommended for disposition well in advance of the date the action is to be considered. This is to ensure that ample time is available to research all legal and tax considerations as well as to consider the university's relationship with the donor.

The Artistic Property Committee must approve any disposition of works in the Artistic Properties Collection. The person/department initiating such action will provide the Artistic Properties Committee with an explanation of what is being relinquished and the reason for the action. All objects that are intended to be relinquished will be subject to a vote by the committee. The decision of the majority will be honored. Outside opinions may be solicited before reaching a decision.

When recommending any method of disposition, the Artistic Properties Committee will address the reasons for the selection of such method. Documentation on disposition regarding destruction must be filed with the Archives & Art Inventory Specialist at the time of disposal.

If artistic properties curated by a department other than the Artistic Properties Office are to be relinquished, the Archives & Art Inventory Specialist must be notified in a timely manner in order to keep files and inventory current.

All proceeds from the sale of artwork in the Artistic Properties Collection will be deposited into the Artistic Properties account. This center funds conservation and maintenance efforts as well as other projects for the Artistic Properties Collection.