Slice 1Created with Sketch.

Index > Operations Policies > Public Art Policy

Public Art Policy


It is a goal of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to provide a richly diverse learning environment that promotes exploration, discovery and the dissemination of new knowledge. It is RISD’s intent to display interesting and stimulating high-quality works of art to broaden the educational experience for students, faculty, staff and visitors, which support RISD’s mission, vision and values.

The purpose of this Policy is to establish a consistent evaluation process for the acquiring, owning, displaying, and deaccessioning of public works of art.


This policy applies to all decisions regarding public art in the exterior public space of the campus, including the President's House and Tillinghast Farm. This policy applies to all RISD faculty, students and staff as well as outside benefactors or artists, including alumni.

This Policy does not apply to the collection of the RISD Museum, objects on loan to the Museum or under its custody within the museum building or in its courtyards. Furthermore, it does not apply to private art work gifted to individuals or departments that may be on display in department offices; however, such gifts may be subject to other statutes and/or RISD policies related to accepting gifts, limitations on value, conflict of interest, etc. Student site installations, either exterior or interior, must follow the site installation guidelines.

Policy Statement

RISD will facilitate the review, development, and installation of campus public art through developing a set of policies and procedures that will ensure the careful choice of appropriate works of art, their proper installation, maintenance, and the identification of funds for these purposes.


Public Art – Works of art to be placed in exterior public areas on the college grounds for permanent or long-term display, including sculpture, in situ creations, paintings, murals, video installations, and other new media. Public art includes art that is acquisitioned, commissioned, donated, purchased, accepted, solicited, and/or gifted to the institution.

Loaned Art – Exterior public art on loan to the college for between six months and two years, without ownership transferred to the institution.

Deaccessioning – The decision and process to remove a work of art from the collection of public art and dispose of it.

Long-term Installations – Installations that will be in place for more than 6 months.

Public Art Committee - A standing committee established to review specific proposals for public art and to make recommendations to the RISD Campus Planning Committee. The President has final approval of RCPC recommendations and makes the final decision on all public art proposals.

RISD Capital Planning Committee ("RCPC") -- A standing committee established to oversee the Campus Master Plan. identify and prioritize significant capital needs, recommend an annual capital budget and five-year capital plan for approval by the President and the Board of Trustees and review proposals for naming of physical property and outdoor spaces

Short-term Installations – Installations (excluding student installations) that will be in place up to 6 months.

Student Installations – Student work installed for up to two weeks. The student must follow the site installation approval process.


All public art and proposals to acquire and display public art, as defined above, must be evaluated by the Public Art Committee and recommended to RCPC; reviewed and recommended by RCPC to the President, and approved by the President prior to acceptance by any college entity.

The display of loaned artwork (or artwork for which RISD does not retain unfettered ownership) in unsecured public places presents significant liability issues related to security, indemnification for damage to the artwork itself (either intentional or accidental) and/or damage to persons caused by or related to the artwork, etc. However, RISD desires to make work of emerging and underrepresented artists more visible; this work may often be loaned. Certain requirements for loaned art must be met and requests to display any works of art intended to be loaned to the college must be vetted through the process with particular attention paid to liability and costs. Conditions and stipulations must be customized to address specific concerns related to any proposed loan. Art accepted by RISD for loan is by agreement and for a minimum period of six months and a maximum period of two years.


The Public Art Committee (PAC) will develop, manage, and periodically update the processes and procedures to receive, review, evaluate and make recommendations to RCPC regarding proposals for public art on campus. It should be recognized that the advocacy and selection of public art can be controversial and, at times, technically difficult. The processes and procedures should address evaluation of such parameters as the type of art; the proposed location and duration of the display; potential costs to the college for procurement, installation and long-term maintenance; safety; ownership; a deaccessioning process; and any desired soliciting/commissioning process. The processes and procedures developed by the committee will be vetted by RCPC with input from appropriate entities (e.g. Institutional Advancement, Facilities, General Counsel, etc.).

The PAC is responsible for developing and maintaining an inventory of exterior public art on campus, including date of installation, artist, location, and how the artwork was acquired (gift, purchase, etc.), including all existing exterior public art.

1. Proposals for public art to be gifted/donated to the college must be made in writing to the Public Art Committee (PAC). Proposals must come from a RISD community member (faculty, student or staff member). The proposal should include:

  • Date of proposal submission, name of the artist and biographical information, and contact information for the individuals or unit submitting the proposal;
  • Narrative and conceptual design material to illustrate the artistic intent;
  • Proposed siting, including adjacent context;
  • Multiple views of the artwork, showing all important structural features of the work, including pedestal or landscaping recommendations, as appropriate;
  • The work’s dimensions, weight, and volume;
  • Its current and future ownership status, e.g., the cost of its purchase (if it is not a gift), or the duration of its display if it is a loan;
  • Estimated cost of transportation, installation, maintenance, and insurance;
  • Source of funding to pay for the work’s transportation, installation, maintenance, and insurance (and purchase, if that is proposed);
  • The target dates for installation, and duration, if short-term;
  • All other useful information.

2. Submission of a proposal does not commit RISD to approval. PAC review does not constitute approval.

3. PAC will forward the art proposal to the Vice President of Institutional Advancement ("VPIA")for review to prevent unintended crossover of procedures or interference with development and other fundraising opportunities.

4. If the proposed art piece meets all criteria and the PAC deems the proposal is suitable for consideration, the committee will forward its recommendation to the RCPC for review. PAC recommendation to the RCPC does not constitute approval of the proposal.

5. RCPC review of the proposal may include a recommendation of approval to the President. RCPC recommendation to the President does not constitute approval of the proposal.

6. The President may approve, deny, or return a proposal to RCPC for further consideration. The President's decision is final and can only be reversed by the President.

7. If the proposed work(s) of art/design are intended to be a gift of Public Art to RISD, Institutional Advancement will work with the donor throughout the proposal review process to manage RISD’s relationship with the donor, and, adhering to RISD’s Gift Acceptance Policy, engage the Gift Acceptance Committee and RISD’s Campus Master Planning Committee, prior to accepting the gift. A formal Gift Agreement will be developed by IA for signature by the VPIA and the donor.

8. The chair of the PAC will notify the proposal initiator of RISD's decision, coordinating communication with the VPIA in the case of gifts.

9. Upon receipt of final approval of the proposal by RISD's President, and in cases where the work is to be a loan, a written "loaned artwork memorandum of agreement" specifying the terms of the loan will be developed, engaging RISD's counsel as needed, and signed by the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, and the artist/designer prior to making arrangements to bring the work(s) to campus, the PAC and Facilities will work with the applicant and donor to consummate the donation and arrange for installation.

10. RISD's acceptance of an art submission shall not obligate or prejudice the college regarding donor/artists' future art submission considerations.

11. Upon receipt of the gifted or donated art piece, all ownership rights must transfer to RISD and are retained while in possession of the art piece. The art piece becomes property of RISD and may be disposed of by the college as is deemed appropriate.

Proposals for display of art already owned or to be purchased or commissioned by RISD would follow the same procedure.

Additional Requirements of Loaned Public Art

Loaned public art proposals follow the same process and utilize the same selection criteria as does the permanent collection, with the exception that the owner of the artwork or sponsoring department (not the college) is responsible for:

  1. Maintenance costs attributed to the artwork for the duration of the loan. Maintenance fees are determined by the college and will be specified in the loan agreement. All maintenance fees are paid to the college. Unpaid maintenance fees can result in removal of the art work.
  2. Installation and removal of work will be performed by the college; however, the artwork owner is responsible for all installation and removal costs, which includes all associated costs for lighting and landscaping. Site preparation and remediation (following artwork removal) will be performed by the college and according to specifications from RCPC and Facilities.
  3. During the period of time that a work of art is displayed publicly by the college, the owner of the work of art must provide one of the following insurance documents:
    • An insurance rider covering the specific work of art for the entire negotiated display time.
    • A signed waiver holding RISD harmless in the event of vandalism, damage, or theft.
  4. RISD agrees to house the above described art work on a loan basis, for a time period of a minimum of six months and up to two years. If RISD chooses to remove the art piece from the campus and terminate the agreement prior to the end of the loan period, the college will notify the art owner at least 30 days prior to the planned removal date. During the loan, the donor may arrange to remove the loaned art piece with a 120-day notice to RISD to coordinate the removal and satisfaction of all removal expenses.

Evaluation Criteria and Requirements of all Proposals

The Public Art Committee will be charged with developing a set of evaluative criteria. These criteria should consider at minimum the following:

  • Promotion of the RISD Public Art Policy's Mission/Purpose and Intent
  • Quality and presentation
  • Placement and site location
  • Security
  • Insurance and indemnification responsibility
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Cost
  • Funding

Removal of Public Art

RISD reserves the right to sell or donate public art in its ownership. Removal of public art requires President approval. Removal from site for storage, elimination or destruction of the artwork following the Visual Artists Rights Act, or deaccessioning are all possibilities. The PAC will make removal recommendations to the RCPC, who will review and if appropriate send to the President for review. In the event that the lender of a loaned piece of art fails to remove the work as agreed or fails or refuses to reclaim it at the end of the loan period, the work shall be deemed to have been abandoned and shall become subject to RI abandoned property law. In that event RISD may dispose of the work in any manner it deems appropriate without liability to the lender.

Committee Composition

1. Members of the Public Art Committee will include the PAC chair, who is appointed by the Academic Deans, a Theory and History of Art and Design faculty member, a Fine Arts faculty member, an Experimental & Foundation Studies faculty member, an Architecture + Design faculty member, a RISD Museum professional, the Director of Campus Exhibitions, a student representative, and the Vice President for Campus Services. Staff support will be provided by the Director of Planning, Design & Construction.

2. The Chair will propose the selection of members in consultation with the appropriate unit heads (department head of Theory and History of Art and Design, deans of Fine Arts, EFS and Architecture + Design, Museum director, and others when appropriate).

3. The PAC meets on an ad hoc basis as public art proposals require review, or to address other public art planning issues. Meetings may be conducted electronically, if appropriate. The purpose of these meetings shall be to:

  • Review proposals;
  • Evaluate options and endorse appropriate projects; and
  • Provide recommendations for each project.

4. Meetings may also include additional persons deemed appropriate by the Chair, including building project clients, artists, architects, contractors, or professional experts.

5. Term/length of service is three years.

Revision history

This policy was approved as of: 5/3/2022

Next scheduled review: 3/1/2025


Issuing Office

Campus Services / Facilities Operations

Responsible Officer

Vice President of Campus Services

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

RISD President

Vice President of Campus Services

Vice President of Institutional Advancement

Chair(s) of the RCPC

Chair of the Public Arts Committee

Museum Director