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Art Policy

  1. Madison Public Library Vision
  2. Madison Public Library Mission
  3. Goals for the Policy
  4. Art Program Mission
  5. Exhibitions and Temporary Displays
  6. Central Library Exhibitions
  7. Criteria for Selection
  8. Policy for Gifts of Artwork
  9. Gifting Art to the City of Madison
  10. De-Acquisition of Artwork
  11. Request for Removal of Artwork

I. Madison Public Library Vision

Madison Public Library: your place to learn, share, and create.

II. Madison Public Library Mission

Madison Public Library provides free and equitable access to cultural and educational experiences. We celebrate ideas, promote creativity, connect people and enrich lives.

III. Goals for the Policy

The Madison Public Library Art Policy provides a framework for the growth and development of exhibitions and collections in support of the Library’s mission. It is the Library’s goal to present a diverse Madison community with artwork and exhibitions that reflect a wide range of views, expressions, opinions and interests. Specific displays may include items that may be unorthodox or unpopular with the majority or controversial in nature. The Library’s display of these items does not constitute endorsement of their content but rather makes available its expression. Madison Public Library adheres to the principles of intellectual freedom, adopted by the American Library Association, as expressed in the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View Statements.

IV. Art Program Mission

Madison Public Library is dedicated to enriching the library experience of patrons of the Madison Public Library by:

  • Enhancing community appreciation of the arts.
  • Presenting a variety of exhibitions by artists as well as exhibitions of an educational and/or historical significance.
  • Providing opportunities for library visitors to encounter original artwork and increase their visual literacy.
  • Helping local and regional artists to expand their public exposure while remaining open to artists working on a national or international level.

V. Exhibitions and Temporary Displays

The Madison Public Library consists of multiple libraries. Each of our libraries has unique exhibit opportunities. Shows should compliment the mission and vision of the Library.

The Art Organizer at each individual library under the direction of the Art Coordinator is responsible for selecting exhibitions based on the library’s needs and appropriateness to the exhibition space available. Applications are evaluated on a rolling basis. The Central Library has an annual jury process for selecting exhibitions, which is outlined below.

VI. Central Library Exhibitions:

This information pertains to the Gallery at the Central Library. Madison’s Central Library offers several unique locations for exhibiting art:

  • A main exhibition space on the third floor, skylights, and directional lighting, which can accommodate 2D, 3D and site-specific artwork
  • Secondary spaces on the Mifflin Street side of first and second floors for 2D artwork
  • A video art screen on the first floor with a Blu-Ray player and sound
  • The possibility for site-specific installations throughout the library

Exhibits vary in duration depending on the space involved. Shows in the third-floor exhibition space typically run for two months. We remind potential artists that many members of the public, including children and families, use Madison Public Library; the Art Coordinator reserves the right to determine what work is appropriate for each space.

Proposals are accepted throughout the year. A jury selected by the Arts Coordinator and the head of the Madison Arts Commission evaluates proposals received by the annual submission deadline. Artists are notified of acceptance within approximately six to eight weeks of the deadline. Shows will generally be booked out a year in advance. The Art Coordinator may use his or her discretion to address the Library’s scheduling needs. Decisions made by the jury and/or the Arts Coordinator are final.

VII. Criteria for Selection

General criteria for selecting Library exhibitions are listed below. An item need not meet all of the criteria in order to be acceptable.

  • High artistic merit
  • Contemporary significance, popular interest or permanent value
  • Prominence, authority and/or competence of artist
  • Attention of critics and reviewers
  • Potential for public interest
  • Timeliness of material
  • Relation to existing collections and exhibitions
  • Statement of challenging, original or alternative point of view
  • Authenticity of historical, regional or social setting

VIII. Policy for Gifts of Artwork

The Library board under guidance of the Art Coordinator and the Director of Madison Public Library will consider prospective gifts and/or purchases of artwork in order to determine the appropriateness for inclusion in the Madison Public Library collection.

Work will be considered based on the following criteria:

  • Artwork acquired by the Madison Public Library should be of sufficiently high artistic merit to warrant inclusion in the Library collection. This generally requires that the works be unique pieces created by artists of established reputation or recognized potential.
  • Artwork should be compatible with the character of the Library.
  • Artwork must be durable, sound, non-hazardous, and maintainable in terms of the nature of the materials.
    • An exception to this could be made in the case of works that are specifically time-based or of a temporary nature when it is understood that their installation would be of limited duration.

The Art Coordinator and the Director of the Madison Public Library will consider all artwork offered as a gift to Madison Public Library. In addition to the criteria above, the Committee will take into account the significance of artwork as it relates to the library’s presence within the community.

Madison Public Library will provide recognition to all individuals, groups and/or corporations who donate services, financial support or gifts of art to the Library. Appropriate recognition will be determined through consultation with the donor and will generally be consistent with the recognition given to library donors. Display of accepted artwork is at the discretion of the Madison Public Library. There is no obligation for display.

IX. Gifting Art to the City of Madison

Once a piece of art is accepted into the library’s collection, the Library may then gift the piece to The City of Madison. At this point the permanent artwork would be in the Collection of Madison Public Library and owned and insured by The City of Madison. Basic upkeep is then the responsibility of Madison Public Library. Major conservation or repairs are then the responsibility of The City of Madison.

The library retains the right to not gift any works of art to The City of Madison. In this scenario the artwork would be owned and insured by the Madison Public Library. Major conservation or repairs are then the responsibility of The Madison Public Library.

X. De-Acquisition of Artwork

The Madison Public Library will work to retain all works accepted as gifts, but does retain the right to de-acquisition any items if it is seen to be in the best interest of the Library. If the artwork to be de-acquisitioned is owned by the Madison Public Library, then any de-acquisition would have to be approved by the Madison Public Library Board. If the artwork is owned by The City of Madison then any de-acquisition would have to be approved by The City of Madison and the Madison Public Library Board.

XI. Request for Removal of Artwork 

The Library welcomes citizens’ expressions of opinion concerning artwork displayed at the library. Requests to remove materials will be considered within the context of the policies set forth in this document. Anyone who wishes to request that a specific item be reconsidered for inclusion in the collection of materials is asked to complete and sign the Request for Reconsideration Form, available at any Madison Public Library location. The form will be forwarded to the Art Coordinator, who will consider the request in a timely fashion, in consultation with the Library Director. The questioned material will be reviewed, in its entirety, and once a decision has been made regarding the retention or removal of the material, a letter will be sent to the person, explaining the decision. If the person indicates dissatisfaction with the resolution, he/she may appeal to the Library Board. The Board will reconsider the decision based on whether or not the particular title conforms to the Board-approved Art Policy, as outlined above.

This policy was approved by the Library Board on March 6, 2014.