Art Collection Policy, University of Toronto [February 8, 2010]

University of Toronto
Governing Council

University of Toronto
Art Collection Policy

February 8, 2010

To request an official copy of this policy, contact: 

The Office of the Governing Council
Room 106, Simcoe Hall
27 King’s College Circle
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 1A1

Phone: 416-978-6576
Fax: 416-978-8182



This Policy sets out the principles and processes through which works of art are added to, maintained within, or removed from the University of Toronto Art Collection.  Its scope refers to the specific group of works within the University’s Art Collection, rather than to the larger and varied collections of art that exist in the University and its divisions.  The collections of the federated universities are not part of the University of Toronto Art Collection.  It is, however, intended and hoped that the principles and standards the Policy describes will guide other collecting bodies connected to and within the University


The University of Toronto Art Collection spans all three campuses of the University and the collection at Hart House.  It includes works acquired by the University and formally accepted (that is, accessioned) into the Collection.  Over time, the approval bodies and processes have evolved. Since the establishment of the University of Toronto Art Centre in 1996, acquisitions on the St. George campus have been approved by the Acquisitions Committee of the Centre.  Similar committees have been formed at Mississauga and Scarborough.  Hart House has a separate and distinct acquisitions process.

The University of Toronto Art Collection encompasses works of art of all forms, including but not limited to paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, architecture, installations, digital and electronic works.   Works may also be part of the fabric of buildings, such as windows, or may be displayed outdoors.  A work of art may be a single item or an integral unit made up of components.

The University of Toronto Art Collection comprises works intended to contribute to the University’s mission with respect to teaching and research.


Subject to the approval of the Vice President and Provost, the relevant campus Director / Curator on each of the three campuses will be appointed to chair the Art Acquisitions Committee on that campus and will have overarching responsibility for ensuring that the Art Collection works on that campus are documented, conserved, protected, and made available for scholarly and student study in keeping with professional and institutional standards.  They will also work with the Universitys Risk Management department to ensure that the works are appropriately insured, and will provide all necessary information, such as the value and location of each work, needed by that department.

The Directors / Curators will jointly create and maintain a detailed inventory of all works and ensure that professional standards of registration and documentation are met.  The Curator of the Hart House collection fulfills comparable functions.


The University of Toronto Art Committee, chaired by the Vice-President and Provost, or a designated senior academic administrator, has a broad mandate with respect to the University’s art holdings in general, and specifically for the University of Toronto Art Collection, and will exercise institutional responsibility for accepting additions to the Collection on behalf of the Governing Council.  Those decisions will normally be based on the exercise of due diligence in ensuring that each Art Acquisitions Committee has fulfilled all of its obligations. While the Committee’s decision should not be based on aesthetic or subjective evaluation of the works themselves, the Committee will exercise judgment as to whether acceptance of the work would be contrary to institutional interests. The Committee will also make decisions concerning works to be removed from the Collection.  The Committee will perform the same institutional roles with respect to the Hart House collection.

The terms of reference and membership of the University Art Committee and its executive body will be determined by the Vice-President and Provost and appended to this Policy.


The University will establish three standing Art Acquisitions Committees, one on each of the Mississauga, Scarborough and St. George campuses, and special ad hoc committees as required to deal with outdoor art. The campus-based committees will be chaired by the Director/Curator identified for that campus.

The primary function of the Art Acquisitions Committees will be to determine that prospective additions to the University of Toronto Art Collection, whether they are to be donated or purchased, meet the University’s objectives with respect to teaching and research, and are of appropriate quality and significance.  The Committee will collaborate with the Division of University Advancement with respect to works that are offered for donation to the University.  Appropriate professional appraisals of such gifts should be obtained, with the responsibility for evaluation lying with the University through the relevant Art Acquisitions Committee.  The University will issue charitable tax receipts only for donated works that have been accepted into the University Art Collection.

When it has determined that a new work of art should be accepted or purchased, the relevant Art Acquisition Committee will so recommend to the University Art Committee.  The recommendation must be supported by information concerning the provenance of the work and demonstrating that the criteria for acquisition and all other necessary considerations with respect to installation, conservation, documentation and insurance have been addressed.  The Art Acquisitions Committees will also be responsible for recommending to the University of Toronto Art Committee that a work of art should be removed from the Collection, and that all specified considerations (see “Removal of Works”) have been fully addressed.

With the oversight of the Warden, the Hart House Curator will manage that collection by analogy to the principles and processes described in this Policy.


Works intended to be situated outdoors entail considerations of location, installation and ongoing maintenance beyond the matters described above.  In the case of proffered gifts or purchases of outdoor art, the Chair of the University of Toronto Art Committee will appoint and chair a specially-formed Outdoor Art Acquisition Committee which will include relevant Director / Curators, the Vice-President, Business Affairs (or designate), the Assistant Vice-President, Campus & Facilities Planning, representation from the Campus Design Review Committee, the Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, and additional Deans and/or Chairs and representation from the Federated Universities, the University of Toronto Mississauga and the University of Toronto Scarborough as relevant.  The Chair of the University Art Committee will also identify the appropriate Director/Curator to be responsible for the ongoing oversight and preservation of the work.


The selection or acceptance of a work of art will be based on the following criteria:

a) artistic merit and cultural value

b) relevance to the collections, present and future, of the University of Toronto, and to the teaching and research components of the academic mission of the University

c) condition

d) adequate funding for maintenance, conservation, storage, and the expenses related to the donation and installation of the work

e) unencumbered and clear legal title

Conditions on acquisition should be avoided.

The University must be reasonably assured that the work has not been collected under circumstances considered to be exploitative, unethical, illegal, or otherwise incompatible with professional standards. Accordingly, the relevant Art Acquisitions Committee will make every reasonable effort to ascertain the provenance of the work and that the University can rightfully assume legal and valid title to, and custody of, the work. To this end, the University Art Committee, acting prudently, should accept only works that are well documented.


The University of Toronto Art Collection is among the University’s notable assets. Together, the works of art form part of the nation’s heritage, equal to some collections held in public trust by galleries and museums across Canada. Accordingly, the University of Toronto has a responsibility to the University community and to the general public to maintain these collections at a standard commensurate with their significance and value.

Protection involves three fundamental elements:

a) conservation

b) security (e.g., protection against theft, vandalism, fire, flood and other disasters)

c) housing and environmental controls as required (e.g., relative humidity, temperature, intensity and quality of lighting, and airborne contaminants)


The University of Toronto Art Committee will ensure that the Directors/ Curators implement and maintain a system of appropriate professional standards of registration and documentation for the Art Collection. Registration and storage procedures should be evaluated periodically and the recorded inventory of works of art against actual holdings should be verified annually. Holdings will be recorded with the Risk Manager and/or the Fixed Assets Officer.


The University of Toronto Art Collection illustrates the changing taste of different periods and individuals, and reflects the University community, collectors, and others who have contributed to its growth. The works document the history of collecting in the University of Toronto, and play an important role in its cultural history. A decision to remove a work from the Collection must, therefore, be carefully and thoughtfully considered by the University Art Committee.

a)  All items must be regularly reviewed by the Director/ Curators for purposes of deaccessioning, having regard to the costs of storage and maintenance, the use being made of stored works for scholarly/academic purposes, restrictions on the disposition of these items, and the value of such items if sold at public auction or to another public collection.

b) The results of the regular deaccessioning reviews should be submitted to the Chair of the University Art Committee on an annual basis.

c) The University of Toronto Art Committee will, on the basis of the submitted reviews, make the final decision as to whether works should be removed from the Art Collection. Their decision will be guided by the following criteria.   It may be that the work has deteriorated beyond usefulness, is no longer considered authentic, has no useful purpose within the collecting, exhibiting, and research programs of the University, does not add significantly to the University’s holdings and could be disposed of in order to acquire another work that would add more depth and scope to the collections, or is a duplicate.  It may also be that the University is no longer able to care adequately for a work, or that another institution or government has a better claim and that the work should therefore be repatriated.

d) If disposal is by outright sale, public auction is preferable, but other possibilities may be another institution, a private individual or a dealer. If sale is not by public auction, or if disposal is by trade or exchange, sister institutions should be given preference over private individuals or dealers on the basis of fair-market value. There will be a general presumption that a deaccessioned item should first be offered to another public collection before other means of disposal are considered.

e) All proceeds realized from disposal will be credited to an art conservation fund; funds will not be used for administration but will be applied to the costs of insurance, cleaning, restoration and conservation of works in the Collection.

A record of the decision to remove a work of art, and appropriate documents and images pertaining to the work, should be retained permanently.

The loss, destruction, or theft of a work of art will be dealt with according to usual

University procedures and reported to the University Art Committee.

Approved by Business Board on February 8, 2010.