Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Collection Management
Authoring Organisational Unit
Vice-Chancellor [104985]
Date Approved
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Not Yet Approved In Accordance With Current Legislative And Policy Framework

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Art Acquisition for the University of Western Australia Art Collection

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

The University of Western Australia Art Collection is a distinctive collection of visual art, including works of outstanding quality and importance for the artistic and cultural heritage of the nation. The Art Acquisition Policy ensures the maintenance of this standard by stipulating acquisition of works that improve the coverage, balance and quality of the Collection, and addresses deficiencies in the Collection.

This policy sets out the principles for acquisition of works of art for the University of Western Australia Art Collection (housed in the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery) at the University.


In this policy and any associated procedures:

The University means The University of Western Australia.

Acquisition means purchasing works from, or bequeathed or donated by individuals, or purchased from or donated by corporate institutions, commercial galleries and auction houses, or transferred from and exchanged with government and statutory bodies.

Contemporary art means art of the present time and the past twenty years.

Works of art means paintings, drawings, artists' sketchbooks, illustrated books, prints, decorative arts, sculpture, installation art, photographs, video art and new media.

Western Australian artists refers to artists who are not only born in Western Australia but also those who have lived and worked in Western Australia.

Policy statement:

1 General Principles

1.1 The University ensures that it:

1.1.1 complies with the terms and principles of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986, the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property;

1.1.2 is cognizant of the acquisition guidelines and statements on ethics issued by cultural organisations such as the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and Museums Australia;

1.1.3 adheres to the regulations and procedures of the Commonwealth Government's Cultural Gifts Program;

1.1.4 keeps acquisition information and records as confidential, which involve a matter of trust;

1.2 Where works are commissioned, these commissions meet the National Association of Visual Arts (NAVA) guidelines for issuing contracts to artists.

1.3 While maintaining the integrity of the University of Western Australia Art Collection, the Collection liaises and consults with other university art collections, as follows, when a conflict of interest relating to proposed purchases arises: The Cruthers Collection of Women's Art and the Berndt Museum Collection.

1.4 The University of Western Australia Art Collection ensures all proposed acquisitions are subject to identification and authentication.

2 Methods of acquisition

2.1 Acquisition of works of art for the Collection may occur:

a) by purchase upon negotiation of a mutually agreeable price by the University and the vendor;

b) on occasion, by commission;

c) by donation and bequest (Due to the cost of maintaining, preserving and auditing the Collection, in general, only works of art that fall within the parameters of the policy are accepted). Donations and bequests must be submitted with an acquisition proposal. Where the University of Western Australia Art Collection accepts a donation, the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery must give credit to the donor in any label or published description of the work, unless the donor requests anonymity;

d) by transfer or exchange of works. The transfer of works involves the transfer of legal title. In an exchange, material deemed to be of equal value by both parties is traded. All transfers and exchanges are processed with appropriate documentation, including an acquisition proposal.

3 Principles governing the acquisition of works of art

3.1 In acquiring works of art for the Collection, the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery adheres to:

a) collect works of art as art (not as illustrations of history, technology or any other field of human study, although the works may provide insight into these fields of study);

b) collect works of high artistic quality (not works of mediocre quality which may nevertheless find a useful place in a museum of social history, or as illustrations of the history of taste);

c) collect drawings and prints where the artist has excelled in the medium, and where they are studies for, or related to, a painting or sculpture;

d) collect original works of art, including original prints, illustrated books, photographs and multiples (but not reproductions, replicas, casts, etc.);

e) collect works in a good state of preservation (not works which have been largely restored or re-worked), unless those works are essential for the Collection;

f) collect works which are, wherever possible, free of any legal, moral or financial impediment;

g) not committing itself to display any works which are accepted.

4 Areas of Collection

4.1 The areas of collection include, but are not limited to, the following:

4.1.1 Western Australian art relates to the collection of:

a) a representative range of Western Australian works of historic significance from the colonial period to the present;

b) a broad range of material by contemporary Western Australian artists.

4.1.2 Australian art relates to the collection of:

a) a selective range of Australian works of historical significance of all periods;

b) Australian modernist art, which is a particular strength of the Collection;

c) a representative range of work by contemporary Australian artists of all regions. This includes work by artists confronting critical issues in art and society;

d) portraits of the University's Vice-Chancellors and Chancellors.

4.1.3 Works on paper relates to the collection of:

a) a wide range of Western Australian and Australian prints which demonstrate the range and variety of Australian printmaking.

4.1.4 Photographs relate to the collection of:

a) a range of Western Australian and Australian photography.

4.1.5 Sculpture relates to the collection of:

a) a representative range of Western Australian and Australian sculpture. This category encompasses an expanded field of three-dimensional art, including installation art. Particular emphasis may be placed on sculpture for University grounds and buildings.

b) decorative arts provided they are seen as:

an extension of an artist's work in other media; a form of sculpture;

an exploration of the boundaries between traditional perceptions of art and craft.

4.1.6 New media relates to the collection of:

a)a representative range of works, including video art, particularly where these confront critical issues in art and society, and which are relevant to the development of Western Australian or Australian art.

5 Responsibility for the implementation of the Art Acquisition Policy

5.1 The responsibility for implementing this policy, in cooperation with other relevant staff of the University, lies with the Curator of the University of Western Australia Art Collection and the Director of the Cultural Precinct under the direction of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Community and Engagement) and the Vice-Chancellor on behalf of the Senate.

5.2 At all times the Gallery's professional staff must ensure that they do not place themselves in a situation involving conflict of interest with the University. Written disclosure of any perceived conflict of interest is tobe made by the staff member concerned.

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Chief Cultural Officer

Related Policies or legislation: