Campus Art Process

July 10, 2013

All proposed works of public art for the Princeton University campus—whether to adorn outdoor spaces, the facades of buildings, or the public spaces of University buildings (particularly those buildings serving a significant public function)—must be reviewed and recommended by the Campus Art Steering Committee. The Committee reviews all proposed works of campus art and forwards its recommendation for or against to the Executive Vice President for a final decision.

The work of the Committee is led by two co-chairs, who are the Director of the University Art Museum and the University Architect. The Committee membership is comprised of various members of the University community who serve at the invitation of the Executive Vice President. Because one of the goals for campus art at Princeton is to elevate the stature and volume of public art on the University campus, individual units are advised to contact one of the Committee co-chairs early in the process of considering acceptance of a gift, considering a purchase or commission, or otherwise considering siting or re-siting of an extant work of campus art. Especially in the case of proposed gifts of campus art, or dollar gifts to be used for the purchase or commission of a work of campus art, units may not offer guarantees of acceptance to prospective donors before the Committee has considered a proposed work of public art.

Criteria for Acceptance, Including Preservation Needs 

The University’s Overview and Guidelines for campus art provide guidance on the criteria used to evaluate works of campus art for gift, purchase, or loan. In addition to qualitative criteria, it is expected that all new works of campus art recommended to the Committee by a University unit or the University at large will come with moneys to guarantee their future preservation and/or conservation. When the request comes from a University unit, that unit will be responsible for guaranteeing the work’s long-term preservation, regardless of the source of funds. Absence of such funds will be grounds for the Committee to recommend that a work not be accepted.

Definitions and Purposes 

Please see the Overview and Guidelines for definitions of campus art at Princeton University and a statement of purpose.


  • All proposals for new works of campus art will be made initially to one of the two co-chairs of the Campus Art Steering Committee. Based on the nature of the request, ample time should be allowed for the Committee to review the request, bearing in mind that the Committee meets generally on an as-needed basis.
  • The Committee co-chairs will make an initial review of the proposal to determine if it is ready to go to the full Committee for consideration.
  • Once the co-chairs of the Committee have determined that the request is ready for the full Committee’s consideration, it will go forward at the next available Committee meeting or be taken to the Committee electronically or via hard copy between meetings.
  • The Committee will weigh proposals against criteria established in the Overview and Guidelines for Campus Art. Typically, one of three outcomes is achieved:
    • The Committee recommends acceptance of the work, and the Co-Chairs makes such a recommendation in writing to the Executive Vice President. 
    • The Committee recommends that the work not be accepted, and the Co-Chairs makes that recommendation in writing to the Executive Vice President. 
    • The Committee determines that the proposed work is not yet ready for recommendation (for or against) and goes back to the requesting unit for further information or with requests for revision (e.g. changes to the work, the design, the concept, or the proposed site). In this event, it is the responsibility of the requesting unit to resolve the requests coming back from the Committee. Once these needs are met, the unit may come back to the Committee at any time with a revised request.
  • Once the Executive Vice President has communicated his/her decision on the recommendation back to the Committee co-chairs, this decision will be conveyed to the requesting unit.
  • Typically from this point, logistical matters relating to approved proposals will be coordinated between the requesting unit and the Manager of Campus Collections at the Art Museum, who in turn will call on other campus offices as needed. The Manager of Campus Collections will coordinate installations, but will not be responsible for installation costs, which will be borne by the requesting unit.
  • Outdoor works requiring plaques of any kind (e.g. donor plaques, identifying plaques, or interpretive information) must be coordinated with the Manager of Campus Collections.
  • Once sited, no work of public art may be moved without notifying and achieving the consent of the Campus Art Steering Committee.


Where the requesting unit does not have a preferred site in mind, or where that site has been determined to be unacceptable or impractical by the Campus Art Steering Committee, the unit may request the support of the Committee in determining an appropriate site.

Commissioned Works of Campus Art

In addition to the general process outlined above, University units may have an interest in commissioning a work of campus art. Typically, such requests will come either with funding attached to the proposed commission or failing that with a funding plan. Only in the most exceptional circumstances will the Committee be able to work with interested units or individuals to identify possible funding and/or a funding plan. In the event of commissioned work, the process of selecting the artist and developing the commission will be managed by the Committee in consultation with interested units or individuals.

Once a proposed design for such a commission has been achieved, it will enter the review process described above.

Placing Works of Art on Campus

Conditions that must be met include:

  • Installation and deinstallation shall only be by members of the Art Museum staff or their authorized agents
  • Art hung on walls shall be secured to the wall with security hardware so as not be readily movable
  • Art shall be displayed in rooms that are locked when not in use
  • Art shall be displayed in areas with adequate climate control and shall not be hung in direct sunlight, over a working fireplace, near a heating or air conditioning unit, or near any source of water
  • Paintings shall be protected with UV-filtering Plexiglas in areas where food or drink is served
  • Art shall be installed so that it is safe from vandalism, can be easily maintained, and poses no danger to users
  • The work of art shall not be moved, unframed, cleaned, restored, or otherwise handled by the host unit or others without permission from the Manager of Campus Collections.
  • Art shall not be left in a room during renovations or painting.
  • When not being displayed, art shall be stored in a secured area approved by the Manager of Campus Collections.

All loans are subject to inventory controls by the Manager of Campus Collections who will conduct periodic condition reports.