Original Issuance Date: October 3, 2022

Last Revision Date: October 3, 2022

1.      Policy Purpose

This policy outlines the expectations of University of Wisconsin (UW) System Administration related to the deaccessioning and disposal of works of art and historical treasures owned by UW System institutions.

2.      Responsible UW System Officer

Vice President for Finance and Administration

3.      Scope and Institutional Responsibilities

This policy applies to all UW institutions that own and have the need to deaccession and dispose of works of art and historical treasures.

Institutions shall adhere to this UW System policy. They may not tailor the policy to their institutions. They must also be aware of and comply with industry best practice for the acquisition, care, deaccessioning, and disposition of works of art in their collection and follow the reporting requirements of this policy.

4.      Background

Under Wis. Stats., s. 36.09(1), the Board of Regents is vested with the primary responsibility for the governance of the UW System. In discharging this responsibility, compliance with state, federal, and industry regulations is necessary to protect and uphold the integrity of collections of works of art and historical treasures in the UW System’s possession. The Board of Regents has delegated the authority to oversee the disposition of works of art and historical treasures at a UW System institution to the chancellor (or designee), with oversight from UW System Administration.

The expectations around the disposition of works of art and historical treasures were previously governed by Regent Policy Document (RPD) 22-2, Disposal of Works of Art (rescinded September 29, 2022). The provisions of that RPD are now largely established in this policy.

5.      Definitions

Works of Art and Historical Treasures:  Property that has cultural, aesthetic, or historical value that is worth preserving perpetually. These assets are held in furtherance of public service, rather than financial gain, and are not capitalized as their service potential and expected future benefits are difficult to quantify. Library collections are not governed by this policy.

6.      Policy Statement

UW System Administration recognizes that the works of art and historical treasures under the control of a UW System institution are evolving assets and that maintenance of a collection in line with an institution’s mission requires periodic exchanges, sales, and acquisitions.

To conduct the ethical disposal of works of art and historical treasures owned by the UW System, all UW System institutions must adhere to the following policies:

  1. Each institution must have a committee, which shall advise the chancellor on the disposal, by sale, exchange, or transfer, of works of art and historical treasures that are no longer needed, repatriated, or otherwise not useful to the collection(s). In making its recommendations, the committee should consider all applicable laws, regulations, and donor intent.
  2. All disposals shall be reported by the institution to the UW System Vice President for Finance and Administration for review on an annual basis. This report should include method of disposal, what funds were realized from disposal (if any), and the intended use of those funds.
  3. Funds realized from disposed works of art and historical treasures must be used to acquire other works of art or historical treasure(s) in the name of the donor of the disposed works of art or historical treasure(s), thus perpetuating the donor’s name and their generosity. Funds may not be used for general support or capital expenses.
  4. Funds from any sale and investment earnings thereon must be and remain trust assets of the respective center or gallery, held for the benefit of the center or gallery.

Some UW System institutions have art on their campuses acquired through the state’s percent for art program.  These objects have specific requirements around deaccessioning that must be followed in addition to conforming to the policy here. Please consult the Wisconsin Arts Board for details.

If a donor agreement allows for sale proceeds of donated items to be used for alternative purposes, such as for the general benefit of the institution, and a UW System institution chooses to exercise that authority, such assets will not be considered works of art or historical treasures. The UW System institution must work with UW System Administration Office of Finance to address financial reporting issues.

7.      Related Documents

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)

Federal Guidelines around conservation or dispensation of works created during WPA era

Wis. Stats., s. 36.09(1)

PRO-416, State Procurement Manual – Contract Administration and Transactions: Surplus Property Disposal

SYS 334, Accountability for Capital Equipment

American Alliance of Museums Code of Ethics for Museums

Association of Art Museum Directors Policy on Deaccessioning

International Council of Museums Guidelines on Deaccessioning

Wisconsin Arts Board Percent For Art Program

8.      Policy History

First approved: October 3, 2022*

*Prior to this policy, the requirements for the disposal of works of art in the UW System were contained in RPD 22-2, Disposal of Works of Art (rescinded September 29, 2022).

9.       Scheduled Review

October 2027