Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Collection Management
Authoring Organisational Unit
Office Staff - Cultural Precinct
Date Approved
Next Review Date
Approving Body

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Deaccession and Removal of works of art 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. In order to maintain this standard and improve the Collection, the Gallery may in rare circumstances refine its holdings through a process of deaccession and removal of works of art.

The policy sets out the principles and processes for deaccession and removal of a work of art from 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.

The Gallery means the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.

Deaccession and removal means the permanent separation of a work from the Collection, involving the termination of the ownership vested in the University.

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

Policy statement:

1 General Principles

1.1 In deaccession and removal of any item the University ensures that it:

1.1.1 proceeds with great care to avoid any undue public concern and avoid adverse reaction to current and future benefaction. Works of art donated by individuals are only disposed of in exceptional circumstances.

1.1.2 considers legal and moral obligations or impediments. Work held in trust or for which it has no clear title or ownership are not disposed. The University's ownership of the item is established beyond all reasonable doubt before any disposal action is initiated, and where there is an element of doubt legal guidance is sought.

1.1.3 utlises funds received from the disposal of a work of art for the acquisition of a new work of art. Where possible and relevant, the name of the donor or the fund from which the work was originally acquired is to be credited to the new acquisition.

1.1.4 does not dispose of a work of art by a living artist except with the written permission of the artist.

2 Grounds for Deaccession and Disposal

2.1 Deaccession and disposal of works of art in the Collection is considered in relation to the following categories:

a) A work of art which falls outside the University Policy on: Art Acquisition for the University of Western Australia Art Collection.

b) A non-unique work of art which is duplicated in the Collection where duplication serves no scholarly purpose.

c) A work which is irreparably damaged and thereby devalued, and where it is impractical or beyond the University's resources to conserve the work to ensure its long-term preservation.

d) A work which has been found to have been stolen; illegally imported or exported; falsely documented, described or attributed; or to be a forgery. Copies or fakes are retained if they have historical or scholarly significance.

e) Repatriation for cultural reasons.

f) A work which presents a risk to staff, the public or to other works of art.

3 Methods for deaccession and disposal

3.1 Deaccession and disposal of works of art in the Collection occurs:

a) following consideration of any conditions or trusts attaching to gifts or bequests. Every reasonable effort is made to obtain consent of the donor, trustee or personal representatives prior to disposal.

b) by sale, exchange, gift or destruction. Removal of the work of art is undertaken in an accountable process such as public auction or tender, or transfer to another public institution.

c) following deaccession and disposal the work of art is marked as deaccessioned in the collection management system, not for public access. The acquisition number is not reassigned.

3.2 The Gallery retains all original documentary material concerning the work of art. In the case of a gift or exchange with a public institution the original documentation is transferred with the Gallery retaining copies.

4 Responsibility for the implementation of the Deaccession and Removal Policy

4.1 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 Chief Cultural Officer of the Cultural Precinct under the direction of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Community and Engagement) and the Vice-Chancellor on behalf of the Senate.

4.2 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 to be made by the staff member concerned.

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Chief Cultural Officer

Related Policies or legislation: