Carnegie Mellon University

Public Art

This policy is available on-line:

This policy was approved by the President's Council on February 24, 2006.

Public Art is permanent or long-term art in public spaces on campus. This policy addresses the review, acquisition, acceptance, siting, and deaccessioning of public art. Accepted public art becomes the management responsibility of the Department of Campus Design and Facility Development in the Office of the Provost.

Art enhances the quality of life for all people and should be a part of the daily life of the students, faculty, and staff at Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon is a leader in education for the arts and creative research and practice, and art on the campus and in public building spaces should reflect this leadership status. Acquired public art should expand the educational mission of the university and the College of Fine Arts by providing interesting and challenging work of high quality, accompanied by an interpretive program to make the works accessible to the non-specialist.

The Public Art Committee (PAC) is established to:

  1. Review specific proposals for public art with the purpose of recommending to the president approval, suggestions for modification, or rejection of the public art, and its siting.
  2. Clarify the need for public art on the Carnegie Mellon campus and target specific siting opportunities, including both indoor and outdoor public spaces. This work builds on the campus master planning process.

Public art is acquired through donations, solicitations, purchases, and loans. It should be recognized that the advocacy and selection of public art can be controversial and, at times, technically difficult. Public art selection must address such issues as: artistic quality, appropriateness, site context, public sensibility, durability, maintainability, safety and cost. Given the world class stature of our College of Fine Arts and many of its graduates, the university would be particularly pleased to have the opportunity to consider works by prominent alumni and faculty to celebrate their leadership contribution to their discipline and the world of art.

As the university's financial strength becomes more robust and such funds become available, it is the university's aspiration that major new campus facilities projects will allocate a percentage of project funds for the acquisition, commission and/or integration of public art that will enhance the contribution of the new facility to the quality of campus life. If acquisition funding can be raised, consideration must also be given to maintenance and the future maintenance of the art endowed.


Public Art at Carnegie Mellon is considered to be permanent or long-term art in public spaces on campus, including all outdoor campus space and interior public spaces such as lobbies, social spaces, etc. The PAC does not presume any authority over works of art, photographs, etc. that faculty and staff place on view in their offices or that departments install in their offices and teaching spaces. Art is considered permanent if it is installed with no anticipated time limit or duration. This policy does not address student or faculty art installations with a defined time limit, and which are covered by separate guidelines and coordinated by the College of Fine Arts.


The Public Art Committee is advisory to the president and all proposed public art and its proposed site must be reviewed by the Public Art Committee and approved by the president and the Property and Facilities Committee of the Board of Trustees before it is accepted by the university. The PAC meets on an ad hoc basis as public art proposals require review, or to address other public art planning issues. Recommendations of the PAC shall be upon a vote of the majority of members convened. The Design Review Committee must be consulted on proposals for outdoor sites that require integration into the campus master plan.

In order to ensure that the PAC has the opportunity to receive input from all campus constituencies, prior to recommending acceptance of a piece of public art the PAC shall hold at least one public meeting which all interested members may attend for purposes of hearing about and offering comment on the proposed piece. Representatives of the primary user(s) of the space where the public art is to be sited must also be consulted.

Carnegie Mellon welcomes temporary installations in public spaces organized by departments or individuals. There is no need for the PAC to monitor short exhibits (six weeks or less). Exhibits of the Miller Gallery are also exempted from review by the PAC.

Committee Membership

The PAC is chaired by the dean of the College of Fine Arts. An appropriate staff member designated by the provost shall provide administrative support. The PAC is made up of campus representatives who provide necessary judgmental and technical expertise. Members shall include:

Ex officio:

  • Dean, College of Fine Arts (Chair)
  • Head, School of Art
  • Director, Miller Art Gallery
  • Associate Vice Provost for Campus Design & Facility Development (non-voting)
  • Director, Office of the President (non-voting)
  • Vice President, Advancement (non-voting)


The university recognizes that it is important for the PAC to have wide-ranging input, including from faculty of the university who are non-specialists in the field of art. In order to ensure that the views of non-specialist faculty are represented, three faculty members shall be appointed on a staggered basis by the deans of the Mellon College of Science, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Institute of Technology, School of Computer Science, College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Heinz School of Public Policy, according to the process set forth below.

For the first year of appointments to the Committee (Dean, No. of Members appointed, Term):

  • Mellon College of Science, 1, 3 years
  • Tepper School of Business, 1, 2 years
  • Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1, 1 year

For the second year of appointments to the Committee:

  • School of Computer Science, 1, 3 years

For the third year of appointments to the Committee:

  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences, 1, 3 years

For the fourth year of appointments to the Committee, and for every year thereafter, one dean shall appoint one member of his or her school's or college's faculty for a three year term in the following order: The Heinz School of Public Policy (Year 4), Mellon College of Science (Year 5), Tepper School of Business (Year 6), Carnegie Institute of Technology (Year 7), School of Computer Science (Year 8) and College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Year 9) and so on and so forth such that at all times the Committee shall have three members who are faculty of the aforementioned schools and colleges. The unexpired term of any vacancy created by the resignation or death of any member shall be filled by the dean that appointed the original member.


Two trustees designated by the chair of the Property & Facilities Committee of the Board of Trustees, appointed for terms of two years each.


Two undergraduate students selected by the Student Senate and two graduate students selected by the Graduate Student Assembly, appointed for terms of one year each.


One staff member selected by the Staff Council, appointed for a term of two years.

External Community:

One member, designated by the provost in consultation with the chair of the PAC and the Property & Facilities Committee of the Board of Trustees (e.g. a prominent alumnus/a, a Pittsburgh-based museum director, or the head of a regional arts organization), appointed for a term of two years.

The PAC membership also shall include at least one member of the Design Review Committee (who can be one of the individuals named above) and the Artistic Properties Committee (who shall be the university librarian serving as the university archivist or other librarian designated by him/her). The PAC may call on others in the campus community or outside consultants for their technical expertise as approved by the Provost.

Criteria for Acceptance/Rejection of Public Art

The PAC will use the following criteria in considering gifts or purchases of public art:

Proposed art shall display a high level of artistic quality and craftsmanship that supports and enhances the academic and creative missions of Carnegie Mellon. Distinctive works of art chosen or created for campus public space shall be of sufficiently high quality to merit inclusion into Carnegie Mellon's permanent collection.

The "message" of proposed art, if any, shall be acceptable to current standards and policies of the Carnegie Mellon community. An appropriate site in campus public space shall be available. Proposed art shall be structurally sound and present no environmental or safety hazard.

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.

The donor's clear title to donated art and authenticity of the work shall be confirmed prior to acceptance.

Ownership and Deaccessioning

Ownership and acquisition terms will be determined by the standard gift agreement between the university and the donor of public art. The university, with the approval of the PAC, reserves the right to sell or donate works of public art.

Criteria for Deaccessioning:

The PAC may consider the deaccessioning of artwork for one or more of the following reasons in the event that it cannot be resited:

  1. A work is not, or is only rarely, on display because of lack of a suitable site.
  2. The condition or security of the artwork cannot be reasonably guaranteed.
  3. The artwork has been damaged or has deteriorated and repair is impractical or unfeasible.
  4. The artwork endangers public safety.
  5. In the case of site specific artwork, the artwork's relationship to the site is altered because of changes to the site.
  6. The artwork has been determined to be incompatible within the context of the collection.
  7. The university, with the concurrence of the PAC, wishes to replace the artwork with work of more significance by the same artist.

The artwork requires excessive maintenance or has faults of design or workmanship.