Campus Public Art Process
All proposed works of public art for the Ann Arbor campus—whether to adorn outdoor spaces, the facades of buildings, or the public lobbies of University buildings such as the Power Center and Hill Auditorium—must be reviewed and recommended by the President’s Advisory Committee on Public Art (PAConPA). The Committee reviews all proposed works of public art and forwards its recommendation for or against to the President of the University for a final decision. Because many works of public art offer both logistical and technical challenges, particularly in their impact on facility issues, landscaping, hardscaping, and pedestrian traffic, the University Planner’s Office (UPO) must also be involved, except in instances where the work is to be sited in a public lobby.
Because one of the goals of the PAConPA is to elevate the stature and volume of public art on the University campus, individual units are advised to contact the chair of the PAConPA early in the process of considering acceptance of a gift or undertaking a purchase or commission, or otherwise considering siting or re-siting of an extant work of public art. Especially in the case of proposed gifts of public art, or dollar gifts to be used for the purchase or commission of a work of public art, units may not offer guarantees of acceptance to prospective donors before the PAConPA has considered, and ultimately the President has approved, a proposed work of public art.
Criteria for Acceptance, Including Preservation Needs
Please see the University’s Guidelines for Public Art for guidance on quality considerations that guide the PAConPA’s considerations. Included in these considerations is the expectation that all new works of public art recommended to the PAConPA 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 PAConPA to recommend that a work not be accepted.
Definitions and Purposes
See the PAConPA’s guidelines for public art for definitions of public art and a statement of purpose as these apply to the University of Michigan.
- PAConPA welcomes proposals from University units, faculty, students, and staff. Proposals from individuals or organizations from outside of the University should be made in collaboration with a University partner.
- All proposals for new pieces of public art should be made initially to the chair of the PAConPA. Based on the nature of the request, ample time should be allowed for the Committee to review the request (at least six months for permanent installations).
- The chair of the PAConPA will make an initial review of the proposal to determine if it is ready to go to the full Committee for consideration.
- In cases where the request relates to outdoor siting (including on the façade of a University building), either the unit making the request or the chair of the PAConPA will alert the UPO of the request. Since the University Planner serves on the PAConPA, coordination of the request can be streamlined in most instances.
- Once the chair of the PAConPA has determined that the request is ready for the full Committee’s consideration, it will go forward at the next available Committee meeting. In instances of particular time pressure, the chair may send the request to the Committee electronically or via hard copy, between meetings, although there is no guarantee that this can be done.
- The Committee will weigh proposals against criteria established in the Guidelines for Public Art. Typically, one of three outcomes is achieved:
- The Committee recommends acceptance of the work, and the chair makes such a recommendation in writing to the President.
- The Committee recommends that the work not be accepted, and the chair makes that recommendation in writing to the 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 proceed as it wishes to seek 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 President has communicated his/her decision on the recommendation back to the PAConPA chair, the chair will convey that determination to the requesting unit, the UPO, and the PAConPA.
- Typically from this point, logistical matters relating to proposals ultimately accepted by the President will be coordinated between the requesting unit and the UPO. Where the requesting unit wishes to have a dedication or other public event once the work has been sited, the unit will inform the chair of the PAConPA so that such events can be coordinated for maximum or most beneficial visibility.
- The UPO will coordinate the installation of outdoor works, but will not be responsible for installation costs, which will be borne by the unit. Units installing works of public art in public lobbies are advised to seek the professional guidance of the Museum of Art.
- Outdoor works requiring plaques of any kind (e.g. donor plaques, identifying plaques, or interpretive information) must be coordinated with the UPO to assure compliance with standard campus guidelines relative to outdoor signage.
- The requesting unit must inform the University’s Office of Risk Management of all new works of public art as siting is undertaken, in order to provide insurance coverage as appropriate, and must provide UPO with documentation of the response from Risk Management.
- In the event of commissioned work, the requesting unit will be required to remain in contact with the PAConPA throughout the commissioning process in order to assure that the work remains consistent with the proposal approved by the President and to assure quality control. Significant changes to the approved proposal will require subsequent review(s) by the PAConPA, which may result in a revised recommendation to the President, including recommendation that the work not go forward.
- Once sited, no work of public art may be moved without notifiying and achieving the consent of the PAConPA and the UPO relative to a new proposed site.
- Concerns about the condition of extant works of public art should be referred to the UPO. Expertise relative to preservation and/or conservation may be available from the staff of the Museum of Art, whose registrar may be consulted at any time. However, the costs of preservation and/or conservation, and the responsibility for routinely (annually) monitoring works of public art relative to condition, remain the responsibility of the requesting unit
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 either the PAConPA or the UPO, the unit may request the assistance of the PAConPA and/or the UPO to determine an appropriate site.
In addition to the general process outlined above, units or other members of the University may have an interest in commissioning a work of public art. This may or may not be part of a capital project. Typically, commissions will come either with funding attached or, failing that, with a funding plan. Only in the most exceptional circumstances will the PAConPA be able to work with interested units or individuals to identify possible funding and/or a funding plan, until such time as a centralized funding mechanism for works of public art may come into existence. The PAConPA is prepared to consult with interested units or individuals on possible commissions and to help in identifying suitable artists or avenues for identifying such artists. However, the work to be done in contacting artists, negotiating terms, negotiating initial design proposals, etc., will reside with the proposing unit or individual. Once a proposed design for such a commission has been achieved, it will enter the review process described above.
Adopted December 1, 2008