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Policy: X.E.2

Issued: September 30, 2001

Owner: University Comptroller

Latest Revision:


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1.0 Purpose

This is the University of Virginia policy for the acquisition, recording, maintenance and disposition of works of fine and decorative art by the University community, with the exceptions of the University Art Museum, Alderman Library Special Collections, and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, which have separate guidelines established.

2.0 Policy [Top]

2.1  Fine and Decorative Art

Fine and decorative art includes the following types of items that could have considerable monetary or historical value, or are of special significance to the University. Items such as posters would not generally be included unless it is rare, and therefore valuable. In general, fine arts objects possess a quality that makes them worth more than their utility value.

Examples of 2-D works include, but are not limited to, paintings, photographs, prints, and maps. Examples of 3-D works include, but are not limited to, sculpture, rugs and carpets, ceramics, china, silver and silverplate, metalware, lamps, candelabra, glassware, textiles, object d'art (miscellaneous items), antiques and furniture.

2.2  Acquisition of Works of Art: Gifts

The receiving unit must have a desire or need for the gift, and be able to accept the financial obligations that are associated with accepting such a gift. The financial considerations are the conservation, restoration, insurance, and specialized care a work of art may require. Each unit should have the financial capacity to provide for works of art. Departments can contact the registrar at the University Art Museum for assistance in determining the financial costs associated with a work of art that they are considering accepting. The policy and procedures for the conservation of works of art are outlined below.

Works of art should be considered for acceptance only if certain conditions are met: A work of art will not ordinarily be accepted with the provision that it be kept permanently. A work of art will not ordinarily be accepted with the provision that it be exhibited permanently. A collection of works of art will not ordinarily be accepted with the provision that it be kept intact. A work of art considered for acquisition must include a provenance and clear title for the object.

Works of art of museum-quality, whether given by gift or purchase, should first be offered to the University Art Museum. If the Museum's Collections Committee and director determine that the work is significant to its permanent collections, it should be accepted by the Museum. The value of the work can, of course, be credited to the department or unit in accordance with the wishes of the donor, and unless needed for exhibition, it could be displayed in that unit or department if all proper care is possible in such a location. If the work is not deemed significant to the Museum's collections it may be accepted by the school or unit in accordance with stringent collection care and management policies.

Gifts of works of art must be recorded by the Gift Accounting Office of the Development Office in order for the donor to receive a charitable tax deduction. A Deed of Gift form, along with an Art Inventory Report Form, should be completed by the receiving unit and forwarded to the Director of Gift Accounting. Both forms can be found in the University Forms Directory. [The Deed of Gift form can be found under "Development", the Art Inventory Report Form under "Property Accounting".] The receiving unit must request the transfer of title to the work of art to their unit by a Deed of Gift signed by the donor. See Financial and Administrative Policy IX.A.11 -- Gift in Kind Policies and Procedure 9-5 -- Processing Gifts in Kind for details on the University's policies and procedures on gifts in kind. Procedures for valuing gifts are outlined below and in Policy IX.A.11.

Once completed and signed by the Director of Gift Accounting, a copy of the Deed of Gift, along with supporting documentation, will be forwarded to Property Accounting, who will affix an asset tag to the piece, if possible, and enter the gift into the fine and decorative arts database.

2.3 Acquisitions of Works of Art: Purchases

It is the responsibility of each unit that purchases a work of art to conserve/restore and oversee the insurance of the work of art through Property Accounting and the Office of Risk Management. (See Section 2.11- Insurance.)

It is the responsibility of each unit that purchases a work of art to report the purchase to Property Accounting, by completing an Art Inventory Report Form (Attachment I) and forwarding it to Property Accounting at the time of purchase. The insurance value should be determined by the purchase price of the object unless there is an obvious need for an appraisal. If there is uncertainty about the value of an object, or if it needs an appraisal, please contact the registrar at the University Art Museum. The American Society of Appraisers offers a listing of appraisers in various disciplines.

2.4  Guidelines for the Valuation of Works of Art


An invoice establishes the value for purchased work(s) of art. The guidelines for valuation of gifts of works of art are established by the Internal Revenue Service and are applied to each donor who wishes to claim a charitable deduction. Copies of the IRS guidelines may be obtained from any IRS office, or from a tax attorney or tax accountant. See Financial and Administrative Policy IX.A.11 -- Gift in Kind Policies for more information on the valuation of donated works of art. The section on valuation of gifts in kind is reproduced here:

      2.5 Valuation

Valuation refers to the value placed on the property gift for University gift crediting purposes.  It should be noted the University's valuation might not be the same value used by the donor for his/her tax deduction. It is the responsibility of the donor to be able to substantiate to the IRS the gift value used on his/her tax return.

Small gifts of personal property with an apparent worth of less than $250 may be unofficially valued by University personnel with expertise related to the gift. University personnel may provide informal assistance to help the donor value the gift, but the donor is ultimately responsible for determining the actual valuation.

University personnel with particular expertise in the personal property may provide informal assistance (including suggesting an appraisal) to the donor in valuing an individual gift or group of gifts with an apparent value of less than $5,000 but, again, the donor is ultimately responsible for determining the actual valuation.

Personal property gifts with a value of $5,000 or more will require an appraisal (performed within IRS time requirements) from a qualified third party appraiser for gift recording valuation purposes. The IRS requires donors to obtain an appraisal to substantiate their charitable tax deduction for gifts valued at $5,000 or more. The cost of the appraisal will be the responsibility of the donor.

An advisory committee comprised of faculty knowledgeable in fine and decorative arts will attempt to make recommendations regarding which pieces should be formally appraised.

2.5  Property Worth Over $20,000

The donor must comply with strict appraisal guidelines and, in addition, the donor must include (an 8 x 10 inch) color photo or a 4 x 5 inch color slide of each item donated. (This data must be attached to the donor's tax return.) Part III of IRS Form 8283 must be signed by the appraiser. Part IV must be signed by the University Director of Gift Accounting.

The gift is accepted and recorded provided the donor meets the following substantiation requirements:

  1. Obtains a qualified appraisal for the property contributed
  2. Attaches photographs of the subject work(s) of art, and
  3. Provides a copy of IRS Form 8283 on which the donor claims the charitable deduction.

2.6  Guidelines for Appraisal of Works of Art

The term "qualified appraisal" means an appraisal prepared by a professional appraiser no earlier than sixty days before the contribution of the appraised property, and no later than ninety days after the contribution date. To be independent of the donor, the qualified appraiser cannot be the donor or the donee, a party to the transaction in which the donor acquired the property, a person employed by any of the foregoing parties, a person related to any of those parties, nor have any financial interest in the works being appraised.

The appraisal must be signed and dated by an appraiser who charges an appraisal fee. An appraisal of a collection, or a work of art, must include the following:

A.   A detailed description of the object, including title, size, subject matter, medium, name of the artist, approximate date created, and interest transferred;
B.   The physical condition of the property;
C.   The date, or expected date, of the contribution, the date on which the property was valued, and the manner of acquisition;
D.   The terms of any agreement or understanding entered into, or expected to be entered into, by or on behalf of the donor, that relates to the use, sale, or other disposition of the property;
E.   The name, address, and taxpayer identification number of the appraiser;
F.   A detailed description of the appraiser's background and qualifications;
G.   A statement that the appraisal was prepared for income tax purposes;
H.   A history of the item, including proof of its authenticity and a record of any exhibitions at which the particular art object was displayed;
I.   A photograph of the object, of a size and quality sufficient to identify the subject matter fully;
J.   A statement of the factors on which the appraisal was based. This statement should include:

The specific basis for the valuation, such as any specific comparable sales transactions, particularly sales of other works by the same artist on or around the valuation date;


Quoted prices in dealers' catalogues of works by the artist or comparable artists;


The appraised fair market value of the property and the method used to determine the fair market value, particularly with respect to the specific property;


A statement as to the standing of the artist in the profession and in the particular school, time, or period in which the work was produced.

2.7  Guidelines for Requesting Transfer of Copyright for a Work of Art

Whenever possible, the receiving unit should request a transfer of the copyright to the work of art.

Under federal law, copyright protection is available to all works of authorship that have been fixed in a tangible medium (this includes pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, globes, charts, diagrams, models, technical and architectural drawings).

Owners of copyright have the following exclusive rights: to reproduce the work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies to the public, to perform/display the work publicly. These rights are divisible and may be conveyed separately or in entirety. Ownership of the copyright in a work of art is distinct from ownership of the material object. Ownership of copyright remains with the artist unless copyright was conveyed by written agreement.

Copyright protection for a work created after January 1, 1978, endures for the life of the artist plus another fifty years. Works created prior to 1978 were granted two 28-year terms of protection, with renewal required after the first 28-year term. Once copyright protection has expired, the work falls into the public domain and can be used freely by anyone.

Works of art protected by copyright are available to anyone for "fair use," such as for criticism, teaching, or research. "Fair use" is determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon four factors: the purpose and character of the proposed use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used, and the effect of the proposed use upon the potential market for, or value of, the work.

Federal copyright law has a provision pertaining exclusively to visual artists. It grants the creator of a work of visual art a limited right to maintain control over the work even after it has been sold. The artist has the right to claim authorship of the work and the right to prevent any intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work. These rights belong to the artist, even if the artist is NOT the copyright holder. They extend for the life of the artist and cannot be transferred, although they can be waived.

All questions on the complex issues of copyright should be referred to the Office of the General Counsel.

2.8  Conservation Procedures

University of Virginia units that accept works of art, or contemplate purchasing a work(s) of art, have a responsibility to care properly for these works. This responsibility entails the proper display (including climate stability, location, and security), long-term care (insurance fees, possible conservation and/or reframing costs), and records management (object history files, location, and inventory accountability) of these objects.

To implement the above policy, the following procedures are recommended:

A. Evaluate the work for overall condition. Record your findings using the appropriate Condition Evaluation Form (Form A for two-dimensional objects; Form B for three-dimensional objects. Both forms can be found in the University Forms Directory under "Property Accounting".). If the work is a complex one and you need assistance, please contact the registrar of the University Art Museum.

B. Once a condition evaluation has been recorded, a decision to accept or reject the offered work can be made.

1. If the work does not need the attention of a professional conservator, then the issue of acceptance is made easier. The receiving unit needs to assess its future financial capacity in case it becomes necessary to conserve the object.

2. If the work needs immediate conservation, then the cost of treatment has to be balanced against the value of the object. The receiving unit must have the financial capacity to pay for the conservation work. If the cost to conserve exceeds the appraised value, the work of art still may be accepted if its historic connection to the university, or some other factor, overrides the "loss" (the appraised value versus the conservation costs).

C. The permanent location of the work affects the long-term condition of the work. A work of art must have a stable climate; that is, the temperature and relative humidity should not fluctuate. The ideal is a steady year-round temperature of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of 45-55%.

Do not plan to display a work of art over, or next to, a heating/ventilation unit or vent: this subjects a work to temperature extremes every time the heating/cooling system cycles. Also, do not plan to hang a work near a drinking fountain or other source of water.

Light (both natural daylight and artificial) fades works of art, including paintings on canvas, and can fade a work on paper within six months. Sunlight also fades wood, fabrics and leather. Therefore, no work of art should ever be subjected to direct sunlight. Even indirect sunlight from a south-facing window is too severe. Ideally, shield works of art from strong daylight by using blinds or shades. Lights or windows may require UV filters. Never accept a work of art on paper if you will be displaying it permanently. It will light-fade and be ruined within one to five years.

Evaluate the proposed permanent location for security; areas that can be locked at night and on weekends/holidays are preferred. Works of art need to be shielded from vandals when university staff is not present. A locked office is preferable to an unsecured hallway or unlocked classroom. Security plates can be attached to the backs of frames and then attached to the wall for additional security. The department should review the placement of expensive items to reduce the risk of theft or damage. Rare books should be housed in the Special Collections library.

2.9  Guidelines for Deaccessioning Works of Art: Acquired as Gifts

Regardless of how acquired, works of art considered for deaccession anywhere in the University should first be reviewed by the University Museum director and curators to determine whether they are of museum quality.

Deaccession of works of art will be considered if the work of art is a duplicate, lacks scholarly interest, is of insufficient merit for exhibition, is not considered to be the main focus of a collection, is in a state of deterioration such that the cost to conserve the work exceeds its fair market value, or the donor requests, with the concurrence of the University Art Museum Director and the University Gift Accounting Director, that the work of art be sold.

Proceeds from the sale of works of art, except as noted below, will be used to acquire additional works for the University collection.

See Financial and Administrative Policy IX.A.11 -- Gift in Kind Policies for further information.

2.10  Guidelines for Deaccessioning Works of Art: Acquired by Purchase

Deaccession of works of art will be considered if the work is a duplicate, lacks scholarly interest, is of insufficient merit for exhibition, is not considered to be the main focus of a collection, or is in a state of deterioration such that the cost to conserve the work exceeds the fair market value of the work.

Works of art purchased with university funds become the property of the Commonwealth of Virginia; therefore, disposition must comply with state law. All University units must follow the procedures established by the Procurement Services/Surplus Property Office when disposing of a work of art.

Proceeds from the sale of works of art will be used to acquire additional works for the University collection.

2.11  Insurance

Donations or purchases of works of art are automatically insured by the University of Virginia once the work of art and its value has been reported to Property Accounting. Insurance fees may be based upon the total dollar value of a collection; therefore, the appraised value of each piece should be in each object's file. The University's Office of Risk Management is responsible for UVA property insurance, and if a work of art is damaged or stolen, it will be necessary to provide them with a copy of the appraisal or other evidence of the work's value when making a claim for the loss. All departments should report new acquisitions to Property Accounting as soon as possible.

2.12  Accountability for Works of Art

Each unit must assign a staff member the duty of reporting/confirming the condition and location, or changes of location, of the all its works of art annually to Property Accounting, and the duty of maintaining a file for each work of art. The file should contain a letter of offer from the donor, provenance and conservation history; reports and invoices from conservators; a copy of the Deed of Gift, the purchase order or sales receipt; copies of each annual Inventory Report; and any photographs that document the object's condition. This record also will serve as evidence of ownership and value should a loss by fire or theft occur, and it is strongly recommended that these files be kept in a fire proof cabinet, or, if this is not possible, keeping a copy of the file in another location. The responsibility for maintaining such files should be given to a long-term department staff member under the direct supervision of the unit head.

Libraries or archival repositories will not be required to report works of art contained in books, archives, or manuscripts collections because the work of art would be inventoried through the standard practice of cataloguing or other means of bibliographic control. Materials containing works of art should be used only under supervision and be housed in a protective, secure environment.

In printed books, illustrations are the most obvious form of art. Frequently, however, the bindings or other elements of the book may also be considered art. When books are catalogued, "art" is noted in the cataloguing record, whether unique (as in a drawing laid in) or an integral part of the book (for example, a signed binding). Some examples of such art include photographs, paintings, prints, engravings, holographs, drawings, serigraphs, lithographs, illuminations and sculptural bindings.

2.13  Loan Procedures for Works of Art

Any request to borrow works of art from any University of Virginia department or unit, excluding the University Art Museum, Alderman Special Collections, and Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, which have established loan policies for lending works of art to other entities for educational purposes or public benefit, should be reviewed by the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Risk Management.

Once the Office of General Counsel has approved the loan, the University Art Museum must handle all loans from the University to outside institutions. For loans internal to the University, the University Art Museum may be consulted regarding the conditions that should be met before any loan is finalized (security, condition of the work(s) in question, shipping method, insurance, climate control at borrower's location, etc.). The University Art Museum can provide a sample Loan Agreement that states the terms and conditions of the loan and which must be signed by both Lender and Borrower before the work of art leaves its customary location. Any change of location of an object on grounds or on loan outside the University must be reported to Property Accounting. See Financial and Administrative Policy X.E.1 -- University Collections for additional information.

2.14  Transfer of Works of Art to the University Art Museum

Any University of Virginia department or unit may formally transfer a work of art to the University Art Museum with the permission of the University Art Museum director, curators and collections committee. A simple Letter of Transfer, signed by the department or unit head, will suffice. Suggested wording is as follows:

I, __________________________________________ (name of unit/department head), hereby transfer to the collections of the University Art Museum, the following work(s) of art: ______________________________________________________________ (list objects). The credit line for the object(s) should be: "The University of Virginia; __________________ (state desired credit line).

Yours truly, (Signature)

Note that "credit line" refers to the name of the donor, department, or wording honoring a donor that will appear next to the image every time the work of art is published or exhibited. Examples of credit lines are: "The University of Virginia; gift of the Robert Jones family in memory of Dr. John Jones," or "The University of Virginia; gift of the Class of 1947," or "The University of Virginia; School of Law, bequest of Mary Smith Brown." Credit lines for works of art that belong to the University of Virginia should begin with the phrase "The University of Virginia;..." followed by the wording specified by the transferring unit.

Once the transfer is approved by the Director of the University Art Museum and the Collection Committee, the original of the Letter of Transfer should be sent to the registrar of the University Art Museum and a copy sent to Property Accounting. A copy also should be kept in the permanent files of the department or unit.

Because all works are the property of the Commonwealth and the University, one area of the University may transfer works to another area, including the Museum, but no area may purchase works or collections from another area of the University.


3.0 Definitions [Top]

4.0 References [Top]

See also "Receiving Fine and Decorative Arts" -- Procedure 10-50

5.0 Approvals and Revisions [Top]



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