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Category Administration and Management
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor
Date Policy Took Effect 1 February 2018
Last approved revision 13 April 2022
Sponsor Registrar and Secretary to Council
Responsible officer Facilities Manager, Property Services


To manage the University's acquisition, holding, care and deaccession of artworks.

Organisational scope

This Policy applies to all University of Otago-owned artworks on all campuses, with the exception of artworks and related materials held in the Hocken Collections and managed directly by the University of Otago Library.


For the purposes of this policy, artwork in any media which has been purchased, donated or bequeathed to the University or any of its colleges, departments or divisions. This may include painting, sculpture, water-colour, drawing, print, ceramic art, fibre or textile art, photograph, glass art, documentation of conceptual art, new media art, mixed media art, temporary performance art or site specific installation. Artworks personally purchased by staff are not covered by this definition, nor are reproductions, except where they are numbered limited editions of an original work.
Artwork Collections Committee
The committee providing administrative oversight of the University Art Collection. Committee membership is comprised of various members of the University community who serve at the invitation of the Vice-Chancellor.
The process by which the University acquires artworks, including by purchase, transfer, donation, bequest or through long-term loan.
Collection Receipt
A document outlining the terms and conditions on which an artwork is donated or bequeathed.
The University's artworks and collectible and memorial objects contained in the following collections:
  • The Embellishment Collection – Artworks located throughout the University, to enrich the University's buildings and campus and provide records of individuals and events.
  • The Staff Club Collection – Originally purchased by Staff Club members for display in the Staff Club building, and transferred to University management in 1997.
  • The Frances Hodgkins Fellowship Trust Collection – A collection of works by artists who have held the Fellowship.
Other collections include those of the Otago University Students Association (owned by the Association but catalogued and insured by the University), the University of Otago College of Education and various University Departments and Residential Colleges.
Collections Catalogue
The central record of all artworks, held and maintained by Property Services Division.
Collections Administrator
The person responsible for maintaining the Collections Catalogue.
The process by which the University divests itself of artworks, including by sale, gift, or transfer, or by returning the artwork to the artist or donor.


  1. Purpose of collections

    1. The main purposes for which the University holds artworks are:
      1. enhancing and reflecting the culture and character of the University
      2. recognising the longstanding place and presence of mana whenua
      3. enriching or embellishing the University's buildings and campus for the benefit of staff, students and visitors
      4. recognising individuals and events connected with the University
      5. use for research and education
      6. recognising the links between the University and wider community.
  2. Criteria for the collections

    1. All artworks acquired and held by the University should:
      1. fulfil one or more of the purposes set out in clause 1
      2. be reasonably able to be displayed and maintained by the University
      3. have clear title and be legally, ethically and culturally appropriate for the University to hold, and
      4. for new acquisitions, meet priority level 1 or 2 as defined in clause 2. (b).
    2. Priorities:
      1. Level 1: Artworks by significant artists where the artist or subject matter is closely associated with the University, artworks by Frances Hodgkins Fellows, artworks that are part of a subject-specific collection (e.g. College of Education collection of book illustrations).
      2. Level 2: Artworks where the artist or subject matter is closely associated with the University.
      3. Level 3: Other artworks.
  3. Process of acquisition

    1. Artwork can be acquired by individual departments when it is an approved part of building work (i.e. embellishment), or when the acquisition is funded from the department's budget or from donations or bequests specific to the department. Artwork can also be acquired centrally through the Office of the Vice-Chancellor and the Art Collections Committee in accordance with relevant budgets, donations, or bequests.
    2. Departments should ensure that any artwork they acquire is consistent with the criteria in clause 2, and that the department can meet ongoing costs of maintenance and curation.
    3. Acquisitions by departments must be made in consultation with the Artworks Collection Committee, who will assess the works against the criteria in clause 3 prior to purchase.
    4. When a department acquires an artwork they must notify the Collections Administrator who will update the Collections Catalogue. Where required by the University's Fixed Assets Procedure, the department's Asset Register should also be updated.
  4. Holding artworks

    1. Artworks will generally be located within the department responsible for their acquisition. Artworks acquired through the Office of the Vice-Chancellor may be located anywhere appropriate within the University at the Vice-Chancellor's discretion. Artworks which do not have a responsible Department or Office will be allocated by Property Services Division. Where a bequest or donation includes criteria about where or how an artwork is displayed, these criteria will be respected to the extent that this is practically possible.
    2. For conservation and insurance purposes, the current location of all artworks must be recorded in the Collections Catalogue.
    3. Where a department wishes to shift an artwork's location within the department it should make a formal request to Property Services Division, who will evaluate the extent of expertise required to shift the artwork and assess the suitability of the intended location.
    4. Shifting artworks between departments or campuses requires the prior approval of the Collections Administrator.
    5. Artworks which have specific security measures (i.e. cameras or sensors) may only be shifted with the prior approval of the Director, Property Services Division, and only when appropriate security is in place.
  5. Loans

    1. All loans from the collection are made at the discretion of the Artworks Collection Committee.
    2. Requests for loans within the University community can be made directly to the Committee and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If granted, the Committee determines the terms and length of the loan.
    3. Loans from the collection outside the University, which will only be considered if the request is from an accredited institution, professional gallery or museum, will be reviewed by the Artworks Collection Committee.
    4. A loan contract and condition report shall be issued with all approved loans and tracked throughout the loan period by Property Services Division. The borrowing institution accepts all responsibility for insurance, shipping, and repair costs associated with the loan unless otherwise specified in the loan contract.
    5. Loans to the University must be approved by the Artworks Collection Committee. Loans are not permitted without a loan contract and condition report.
  6. Maintenance and Conservation

    1. The University is responsible for keeping all artworks it holds in the best possible condition.
    2. Property Services Division will arrange for the formal monitoring of an artwork's condition, the frequency and extent of which will be determined by the nature of the work
    3. Departments holding artworks have an ongoing obligation to proactively monitor their condition and advise Property Services Division if any damage or deterioration is observed.
    4. The cost of any repairs, conservation or security measures to artworks held in departments, which will be organised by Property Services Division, will be met by the department.
  7. Deaccession

    1. Deaccession will only occur in exceptional circumstances, and will normally only be considered where:
      1. the artwork does not fit the purpose of the collection
      2. the University is unable to display the artwork for reasons of practicality or safety
      3. the University is unable to adequately conserve the artwork, or the costs of doing so outweigh the artwork's value to the University, and/or
      4. the artwork is inappropriate for the University to retain due to legal, ethical or cultural considerations.
    2. Artworks bought by the University with its own funds can be deaccessed if appropriate at any time.
    3. Artworks donated or bequeathed to the University (or funded by a donation or bequest) should only be deaccessed if the deaccession is in accordance with the Collection Receipt or any agreement made at the time the artwork was acquired, or by subsequent agreement with the benefactor or their descendants.
    4. Should an artwork be discovered to have been received improperly or illegally, it should be deaccessed in a way which best redresses its acquisition.
    5. Deaccession is recommended by the Artworks Collection Committee and is subject to approval by the Registrar or Vice-Chancellor. Priority Level 1 artworks are deaccessed by decision of the University Council. At the time of deaccession, the Collections Administrator  removes the artwork from the Collections Catalogue and the Asset Register but retains a permanent record of its acquisition, holding and deaccession.
    6. Any funds raised from the sale of artworks will be applied to the purchase of other artworks by the University, in a manner consistent with the purpose of the original purchase, donation or bequest.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact the Registrar and Secretary to the Council.

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