Longer-Duration Public Installation Policy

Art and other displays by students are forms of free expression. The college protects students’ right to free expression and is committed to civil discourse.

Students who install art or other displays in public spaces are expected to function as good citizens of the college and stewards of the campus; the college is our community. The policies below guide these forms of public display, which support students interested in public expression, and guide them through the successful installation of art or other forms of public display on campus.

Forms of Student Art or Displays in Public Spaces

The college characterizes two forms of student art or display in public spaces:

1) a curricular installation in a public space, such as artwork assigned in a course. The annual exhibition of senior thesis projects by Studio Arts majors, display of work on all Olin hallway space, and displays in the Museum of Art are excluded from this policy.

2) an installation in a public space that is a noncurricular expression or display by one or more students such as an installation of posters offering commentary on current events.

Longer-term curricular work displayed in public areas on campus are course-based projects, overseen by course instructors, and may be installed on campus for periods greater than 14 days. The guidelines, below, consider, longer-term installations of student, curricular art, specifically. For art projects and displays that are to be installed for 14 or fewer days, please refer to the Short-Duration Public Installation Policy.


Curricular public displays are art installations or public expression connected to a student’s academic coursework that are temporarily placed in public spaces outside or in buildings on campus. Most curricular displays are installations of art or expression, though projects may be assigned and overseen by faculty in any discipline.

Procedure for Project Approval

The student/students creating the longer-term work to be displayed in public must obtain pre-approval for the project from the instructor or faculty advisor whose course is connected to the art/display project. If the instructor pre-approves a curricular art installation or display, the instructor must enter a pre-reservation at the Bates Events Management System. Once the pre-reservation is entered, the EMS will automatically notify relevant offices on campus (including, e.g., Facilities, Security, and Environmental Health & Safety). The instructor and student(s) can expect that proposals to display curricular work in public areas will require further consultation between the offices notified by the EMS and the instructor and student(s). These consultations should occur prior to the next stage of the approval process, described immediately below.

Following pre-approval and pre-registration by the instructor, the student and the instructor must complete a Curricular Art Display Proposal form. Again, display of curricular work on all Olin hallway space and displays in the Museum of Art are excluded from this policy. Also not included under this policy and approval procedure is the annual spring senior thesis exhibition of the work of Studio Art majors; this exhibition is a long-standing collaboration between the Museum of Art and the Department of Art and Visual Culture with established protocols already in place.

The proposal must include:

  1. a description of the art or display, including conceptual, aesthetic, and physical concerns;
  2. an explanation of the connection between the proposed installation and the student’s academic work;
  3. a description of the proposed location for the project;
  4. an explanation of why the work should be installed for more than 7 days.
  5. a written endorsement from a faculty advisor.

The proposal should be submitted to the chair of the Public Art Committee, Dan Mills, Museum of Art, Olin 202, at least three weeks prior to the installation date. If the proposal is sent by email, please include “Longer-Term Display of Art Proposal” in the subject line.



The chair of the Public Art Committee (or a designee) will conduct a preliminary review of the proposal and, if there are no questions or missing materials, will meet with the student/students, and in most cases, with the course instructor or faculty advisor. The chair may approve the proposal, or may decide to bring it to the Committee on Public Art for review. The student and/or instructor may be asked to meet with the Committee on Public Art to discuss the project.

When reviewing proposals, the chair and the committee consider the following questions:

  1. Are there costs to install, maintain, and remove the work of art or public display project? If so, what are the costs? Who or what department is responsible for the costs? Will the installation require insurance?
  2. Is the proposed space an established space for the installation of art or expression? Is the space available for the proposed timeframe? Has it been pre-reserved?
  3. Does the installation plan present any safety or building maintenance issues? Have Facilities Services, Security, and/or Environmental Health & Safety been consulted?
  4. If the proposed space is indoors, has there been consultation with building stakeholders (e.g., those with offices in the building or who regularly use the building)?
  5. If it is outdoors, has there been consultation with stakeholders (Facilities Services including Grounds and Landscaping; Security)?
  6. Is special equipment (e.g., ladders, Genie) required for the installation or removal?

Outcome of Review

After reviewing the proposal the chair and/or committee will, alternately: 1) approve the proposal; 2) call for revision of the proposal; 3) not approve the proposal.

Approved Projects

The chair of the Committee on Public Art will make a recommendation to the Senior Staff of the college (President, Vice Presidents, Deans) if the project is of significant enough scope to warrant such a review.

If the project is approved by Senior Staff, the chair of the Committee on Public Art conveys this information to the student, the relevant instructor and to the Bates Communications and Marketing Office.

The chair of the Committee on Public Art will meet with the student and the instructor to review an installation plan ensuring that all appropriate departments of the college are notified.

Proposals Requiring Revision

If the proposal has merit but the committee determines that the proposal is incomplete, not fully developed, or requires clarification, the committee may return the proposal to the student and the instructor with comments and recommendations. The proposal may be revised and resubmitted.

Projects Not Approved

If the proposal is not approved, the chair of the Committee on Public Art will convey to the student and the advisor the reasons for turning down the project, and alternative options will be discussed.

Installation and Removal

Following the approval of the project, the installation and removal of the art or display must be undertaken within the installation period that was pre-reserved through the Events Management System. Students and the relevant instructor are responsible for all installation and removal. If special equipment is required, the instructor (or student/students as directed by the instructor) should contact Facilities Services or the appropriate office. Any damage to buildings or grounds as a result of the installation will be charged to the student.


All installations should include correct signage and attribution of student artists and makers as well as the course for which the work is displayed. Good labels credit the makers and provide opportunities for discussion, engagement, and enlightenment.

The “Public” in Art Displayed in Public: Discussion and Feedback

Course-related artistic or other curricular work displayed in a public space presents opportunities to communicate ideas, concepts, opinions, and perspectives. Students and instructors who install public displays for courses are strongly encouraged to create opportunities for discussion about and reaction to the installation, so that, to paraphrase the American Association of University Professors, ideas and forms of knowledge may be interpreted, explored, debated, and our shared understanding expanded (AAUP, “On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes” [PDF]).

Respecting Art Displayed in Public

It is a violation of this policy for anyone other than the student(s) or instructor responsible for an installation of curricular art or expression in a public space to deface or remove the installed object. Removing or defacing a work of art displayed in public may result in referral to the student conduct system. That said, art displayed in public by its nature imposes itself on an audience in unmediated ways. The audience may be critical or even hostile to its perceived message or value. All art displayed in public entails – even invites – this risk. It behooves the creator to expect and allow for a multiplicity of reactions and outcomes.