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Art on Campus

  • Responsible Office: Office of the President
  • Current Approved Version: 08/09/2007
  • Policy Type: Board of Visitors

Policy Statement and Purpose

The policy is intended to provide a framework for selection, acquisition, installation, management, and education promotion of public artwork and commemorative elements at Virginia Commonwealth University. This policy includes both outdoor and indoor art. It pertains to the grounds of the University, and any building occupied by the University, including leased property. Indoor art is defined as artwork in the public space of a building, such as the lobby area.

Who Should Read This Policy

University faculty, staff members, friends of the University, alumni, and students associated with the acquisition and placement of public art and commemorative elements on campus should read this policy.

Related Documents

  • The University’s Master Plan
  • Board of Visitors’ Policy Guidelines on Recognition of Donors and Friends
  • Policy on Gifts of Art to Virginia Commonwealth University (Permanent collection of the Anderson Gallery)


VCU’s Chief of Staff, Office of the President and Vice President for External Relations, and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, officially interpret this policy.


Art on Campus Committee

This is the committee responsible for directing and managing the Art on Campus program (hereinafter referred to as the “Committee”).

Public Art

Public Art includes artwork, sculpture, and site features which depart from the campus amenity standard (street lamps, signage, trash receptacles, bicycle racks, and benches) on the campus grounds and inside its buildings. Indoor artwork, as defined by this policy, is limited to those portions of the building that are considered public spaces. This policy includes purchased, gifted, and/or loaned works of art, murals, textiles and the like.



Virginia Commonwealth University aspires to introduce Public Art on its campuses to inspire and to enrich the experience of those who populate and visit its two campuses. The display of Public Art on campus also emphasizes the University’s identity as one of the premier institutions for the study of art. The placement of commemorative objects and landscape features throughout the campus serves also to explore the University’s identity and to express its heritage.

By the introduction of these Public Art elements into the campus landscape and inside its facilities, the University also seeks to preserve and enhance the campus fabric through careful selection of artwork, sculpture, and commemorative objects, and careful attention to appropriateness of the site relative to size, scale, light, color, form, and texture.

Artistic direction generally will be provided by representatives from the VCU School of the Arts, with input from the Chief of Staff, Office of the President and Vice President for External Relations, and by the University Architect. Site selection and direction will be provided by the University Architect, with input from the Chief of Staff, Office of the President and Vice President for External Relations; the School of the Arts; and, if possible, the artist or sculptor. If the piece of artwork or sculpture is gifted or donated by an alumnus, a representative from Office of the Vice President for Advancement shall be included in this process also. Donors shall be afforded a meaningful opportunity for input in the selection of artwork and its placement site, but the University reserves final decision-making authority on both.

Art on Campus Committee

A committee shall be formed to direct and manage the Art on Campus program. Its initial composition shall include:

  • Chief of Staff, Office of the President and Vice President for External Relations (Chair)
  • Vice President for Advancement
  • Dean of the School of the Arts and Senior Associate Dean of the School of the Arts
  • Associate Vice President for Facilities Management
  • University Architect

Acquisition of Art and Sculpture

The Art on Campus Committee

At initial meetings of the Art on Campus Committee, the Chair will provide an overview of potential Public Art projects and review roles of Committee members, Public Art selection guidelines, and applicable artistic criteria. Once specific projects are selected, the Chair will organize tours of potential sites, meetings with the artists, and will coordinate scheduling other events intended to provide appropriate education of Committee members on the social, academic, physical, and environmental context of each potential Public Art project, and to formulate a specific plan for each selected project. Regular meetings will follow, as needed, to consider budget specifics, possible locations, and the generation of lists of artists to be considered.

Art on Campus Guidelines

The Committee shall use the following criteria as guidance for selecting and placing Public Art on campus:

  • Artistic excellence
  • Appropriateness of the site and University setting
  • Ability to promote knowledge of and respect for culturally and artistically diverse expression
  • Durability of the design and materials
  • Reasonable maintenance requirements and resistance to vandalism

Method of Artist Selection

The Art on Campus Committee will identify one of the following four artist selection methods for each selected project. Although the selection methods described generally are written to accommodate the complex planning and fabrication of larger pieces, this policy applies to smaller scale works in various media, as well.

  • Limited Competition – A small number of artists are invited to participate in competition for a commissioned work. Each artist is asked to submit a proposal to the Committee. (See Appendix A for guidelines.)
  • Invitation - The Committee invites and pays an artist or artists (based on reputation and experience) to develop a proposal for a pre-selected site.
  • Direct Purchases – The Committee will recommend the purchase of works available from sources such as individual artists, art consultants, and commercial galleries.
  • Open Competition - The Committee will widely publicize the proposed commissioned work. Proposals and images of previous work will be accepted from all interested artists, but no proposal development fee is paid. The Committee announces the competition in appropriate art periodicals, newsletters, and other media and offers to supply a prospectus to artists expressing interest in being considered for the project. The prospectus will be created by the Committee.

When artwork is to be developed as an integral part of a building project, the Committee will work with the project building committee to ensure that the proposed artwork concept is integrated into the building design process.

Artists’ Presentations

The Committee will meet with invited artists for presentations and explanations of their specific proposals. Most artists will show images of past work and provide written proposals, drawings, or models to elaborate on their respective ideas. The Committee will then discuss and evaluate each proposal. It will recommend to the University’s Vice Presidents the artist to whom it prefers to award the commission.

Artists who are awarded commissions will be required to develop specific proposals based on extensive background information, site visits, and the like. With prior approval of the University Purchasing office, the Committee will negotiate a contract with the artist, specifying, among other things, time limits and fees for proposal related work.

Site Selection

Over the past decade, the University has designed buildings and landscapes with public artwork in mind. Accordingly, the newer buildings already include targeted sites for sculpture and indoor artwork. These sites should be documented and their attributes described, providing a framework for prospective site selection. Further exploration of existing sites on campus should be documented to enhance the opportunity for compatibility between the site and specific artwork.

Recommendations and Approvals

Once the artist and the site have been selected, the artist, at the direction of the Committee, shall prepare images and/or scale models of the work. The Committee then recommends approval through a presentation to the President and University Vice Presidents.

If the work is part of a construction project, the artwork shall be presented also to the University’s Architectural Review Committee.

At least annually, the Chair of the Art on Campus Committee shall report to the Board of Visitors on art selected and installed under the policy.

Donations, Gifts, and Loaned Artwork

Gifts, loans, or temporary exhibits intended to be displayed for extended periods of time in the University’s public setting are subject to the same high standards for review as works acquired through the aforementioned procedures. Such review will be undertaken, as needed, by the Committee. This is to ensure that such work meets the aesthetic standards established by the Committee. Donors shall be afforded a meaningful opportunity for input in the selection of artwork and its placement site, but the University reserves final decision-making authority on both.

Educational and Promotional Efforts

Educational programming and promotional efforts for the Art on Campus program are intended to:

  • Inform the campus and community about Public Art;
  • Enrich student learning about the role of art in our cultural
  • Enhance the community’s understanding and appreciation
    of the artwork and the artist.

The opportunity for educational programming generally occurs:

  • At the time of commissioning or procurement of artwork
  • When the installation takes place, and
  • During the display of the work on campus.

The University also may undertake educational outreach programs with the community on Public Artwork.

Funding, Maintenance, and Management of Public Art


The Art on Campus program shall be funded through a variety of sources including University funds, public grants, and private contributions in the form of cash gifts, endowments, bequests, and direct gifts of art from individuals, corporations, and foundations. A development plan for the Art on Campus program will blend these sources of funds for the purpose of leveraging maximum external funding and matching contributions for the program. Prospective sources for gifts and grants shall be cleared for solicitation and closely coordinated with the Office of University Advancement.


The University’s Physical Plant department shall be responsible for installing and maintaining Public Art on outdoor sites. Respective building managers shall be responsible for maintaining Public Artwork inside buildings. Reasonable efforts shall be made to deter vandalism and protect the artwork.


From time to time, the University may consider the development of rotating exhibits, sculpture gardens, or galleries within buildings where artwork is removed and replaced on a regular basis. The VCU Health System has had such a program in place for many years. At such time as the University undertakes such an initiative, the Committee shall appoint an individual to manage the collection and recruit new artistic talent for the rotating exhibits.

Appendix A


The purpose of this document is to outline a process for procuring and managing Public Art at VCU. This process is for competitive selection of artwork. (Procurement rules allow an exception for competition for commissioned artwork up to $50,000.)


The desired outcome is to enhance the environment with artwork and showcase the skills of VCU alumni, students, and faculty.

Phase 1 (2 to 4 weeks)

  • Identify the location for, and general type of, artwork being solicited.
  • Establish a budget and identify a fund source.
  • Establish a project schedule.
  • Identify special needs to support the work (blocking in wall, sculpture base, etc.).
  • Create a diverse selection committee.
  • Host a site tour and a general information session for the Committee.
  • Committee decides who can compete for the commission.

Phase 2 (5 weeks)

  • Write a Request for Proposals (RFP) outlining:
    • Location (indoor, outdoor, provide dimensions of space, light, finishes, etc.)
    • Type of artwork (e.g., sculpture, painting, textiles, ornamental metal, etc.)
    • Type of medium (if there are limitations such as durability)
    • Concept or theme
    • Description of why the project is important
    • Total project budget
    • Scoring criteria
    • Biography of the artist
    • Length of time the work will be on display (permanently, 6 months, etc.)
    • Method and sequence of payments to the artist
    • Contents of the proposals (e.g. samples of their work, concept drawings, etc.)
  • Publicize the competition throughout the art community.

Phase 3 (3 weeks)

  • Committee reads and ranks proposals and selects a shortlist of artists.
  • Committee interviews short-listed artists and selects finalists (usually 3).

Phase 4 (6 weeks)

  • Finalists prepare models of their artwork (stipend of $200 to $1,000 for models).
  • Committee reviews and ranks the models and makes a final selection on artist.
  • Artist notified and signs a Personal Services Agreement (PSA) with VCU.
  • Payment structure is negotiated with the artist.
  • PSA identifies responsibility for installation and schedule.

Phase 5 (varies, but generally not less than 8 weeks)

Artist prepares and installs work.

Overall Timeline

Generally, four months to select artist and two to four months to produce the artwork.