8 American universities lending their art collections to students

A Williams College student hangs an artwork on loan from the WALLS program in his dorm room (photo by Julia Sabot, courtesy Williams College Museum of Art)

A Williams College student hangs an artwork on loan from the WALLS program in his dorm room (photo by Julia Sabot, courtesy Williams College Museum of Art)

As the fall semester draws to a close and, while skipping studying for finals, you plan to redecorate your sparse dorm, try thinking bigger than the usual arrangement of postcards, posters, and of Polaroids. You can do better than this reproduction of Henri Matisse’s cutouts above your desk or Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” above your bed.

An MIT student browsing works available through the school’s student loan program (courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center, photo by John Kennard)

Perhaps you are lucky enough to attend one of the few American colleges and universities where students can rent artwork from the campus art collection. (Otherwise, it’s never too late to transfer.) With rental collections ranging from 57 to 775 works of art available, these institutions, both public and private, offer their students the unique opportunity to experience the fantasy of a painting by Joan Miró or consider the enigmas of a print by Louise Bourgeois in their own living spaces. The University of Minnesota Art Rental Program was established in 1934, making it the oldest of its kind, while some schools have had the idea fairly recently, such as Williams College, which launched its loan program – Williams Art Loan for Living Spaces, or WALLS, administered by the Williams College Museum of Art – in 2014.

Freshman Michael Burke chooses his artwork at the Smart Museum during the Art To Live With art loan program on Sunday, October 1, 2017 (photo by Eddie Quinones, © University of Chicago)

“Our desire to expand the range of ways in which students – all students, in all majors and all degrees of familiarity with art and museums – could meaningfully connect with WCMA led to the creation of the program,” said Sonnet Coggins, acting vice principal at Williams College. Museum of Art, known as Hyperallergic. “We send every artwork on campus with a journal. At the end of each semester, the student steward of a given artwork writes a “note to a future borrower” in the journal, reflecting on how their understanding or interpretation of the artwork has changed, shifted or deepened over time. , and leaving suggestions on how to approach it, how to install it. Diaries have almost become memories for artworks over the past 8 semesters, creating mini-communities and offering a range of interpretations.

Here is a brief overview of the history and treasures of art loan collections at colleges and universities across the country.

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An MIT student browsing works available through the school’s student loan program (courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center, photo by John Kennard)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Art Student Loan Program (started 1969), managed by the MIT List Visual Arts Center
Collection: Over 600 works available including pieces by Berenice Abbott, Louise Bourgeois and Cindy Sherman.
Cost: No charges

Williams College

WALLS: Williams Art Loan for Living Spaces (launched 2014), managed by the Williams College Museum of Art
Collection: 120 works available including “La Création” by Marc Chagall, “Collage” by Titus Kaphar, “Acrobates” by Alexander Calder and “Metaphysical Hell” by Giorgio de Chirico.
Cost: No charges

Oberlin College

Allen Memorial Art Museum Art Rental (started 1940), managed by the Allen Memorial Art Museum
Collection: Over 400 works available including pieces by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Andy Warhol.
Cost: Students pay $5 per artwork per semester.

Kenyan College

Gund Gallery Art Loan Program (launched 2016), managed by Gund Gallery
Collection: 57 original works available including pieces by Clarence Morgan, Clarence Holbrook Carter and Elizabeth Dworkin.
Cost: Students pay $10 per artwork per semester.

University of Minnesota

The Weisman Art Rental Program (launched 1934), managed by the Weisman Art Museum
Collection: Over 300 works available, including pieces by Keiko Minami, Carol Summers and Cameron Booth.
Cost: Students pay $15 per artwork per semester.

Harvard University

Student Print Rental Program (launched 1972), managed by the Harvard Art Museums
Collection: 271 works including pieces by Andy Warhol, Allyson Mellberg and William Kentridge.
Cost: Students pay $30 per artwork per academic year.

Students from left, Christine Gu, Nick Sitaras and Susie Xu hold their chosen artworks at the Smart Museum on Sunday, October 1, 2017 (photo by Eddie Quinones, © University of Chicago)

University of Chicago

The art of living (started 1958), managed by the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art
Collection: 75 original works available including “Morning Star” by Joan Miró, “Moses” by Marc Chagall, “Starfish” by Max Ernst and “Trials” by Francisco de Goya.
Cost: No charges

University of California, Berkeley

The Graphic Arts Loan Collection (launched 1958), managed by the Morrison Library
Collection: Around 775 original works including “Ser Mujer es Saber Resistir” by Claudia Bernardi, “Plate 6” by Ilya Bolotowsky, “Untitled” by Richard Anuszkiewicz and “Collier” by Massimo Campigli.
Cost: No charges