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Art Collection Procedure

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Section 1 - Introduction

(1) The University acknowledges that it has a responsibility to conserve and manage the Charles Darwin University (CDU) Art Collection, an important research, teaching and cultural resource and University and Northern Territory cultural asset, for the benefit of current and future generations.

(2) The University aims to maximise the accessibility and value of the CDU Art Collection to all potential users - staff, students and the community - in a two way exchange, recognising that such engagement can result in academic, creative and interdisciplinary forms of knowledge finding new applications, purposes and platforms beyond the normal reach of scholarship.

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Section 2 - Compliance

(3) This is a compliance requirement under the Charles Darwin University Act 2003 part 3, section 15

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Section 3 - Intent

(4) This document supports the University’s Art Collection Policy by providing procedures for the development and management of the CDU Art Collection, which includes works of art that are part of the permanent CDU collection, or on loan to the University for display, research and/or acquisition assessment

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Section 4 - Relevant Definitions

(5) In the context of this document:

  1. Accession means the formal inclusion of a work of art into the CDU Art Collection including its transfer of legal ownership, its documentation and provenance, and the attribution of a unique accession collection identification number;
  2. Conservation treatment means any activity, including cleaning, repair of hanging systems and/or restoration that serves to maintain the optimum condition of a work of art and that ensures its long-term preservation and care;
  3. Curator means the Curator of the CDU Art Collection and Art Gallery;
  4. De-accession means the formal removal of a work of art from the CDU Art Collection that includes an identified procedure for its disposal;
  5. Disposal means the physical removal and in some cases the destruction of an art work that has been recorded as de-accessioned from the CDU Art Collection’s holdings;
  6. Incoming loan means any work of art or object borrowed by the University for a specific period of time, as specified in an Incoming Loan Agreement or similar Outgoing Loan Agreement provided by another cultural institution and signed by the University and the lender;
  7. Outgoing loan means any work of art or object lent by the University for a specific period of time, as specified in an Outgoing Loan Agreement or similar Incoming Loan Agreement provided by another cultural institution and signed by the University and the borrower;
  8. Rest periods means a period of time when an artwork is taken off display in order to ensure its long-term preservation and to avoid overexposure to light and fluctuating climactic conditions; and
  9. Work/s means a work of art accessioned into the CDU Art Collection or on loan to the University.
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Section 5 - Procedures

Acquisition Criteria

(6) The criteria governing the selection process for acquisitions to the CDU Art Collection will include:

  1. significance including rarity, aesthetic, social/spiritual, historical and technical values;
  2. relevance to the collection objectives and priorities, as outlined in the University’s Art Collection Policy;
  3. evidence of authenticity and provenance, including legal title that can be fully transferred;
  4. integrity and good physical condition;
  5. potential for display and interpretation;
  6. reasonableness of cost to acquire; and
  7. ability to meet storage and conservation requirements.

Acquisition Procedure

(7) The University will acquire works of art and objects for the CDU Art Collection by purchase, donation, gift, transfer and bequest.

(8) The Curator has discretion to purchase works of art in accordance with the Art Collection Policy and Procedures up to and including to the value of $5,000.

(9) Proposed acquisitions priced at more than $5,000 require the approval of a minimum of three (3) CDU Cultural Collections Advisory Board members, one (1) of whom must be a University staff member. Acquisition proposals must identify any additional costs associated with an acquisition, such as storage, transport or conservation requirements.

(10) All works proposed for acquisition to the CDU Art Collection must be physically sighted by the Curator as part of the process of deciding whether to acquire a work. This enables an assessment of their condition, significance, relationship to collection criteria, aesthetics, storage and longer-term handling requirements to be determined so that the University is confident it wishes to acquire the work and that it can provide a professional level of care for the work/s.

(11) Gifts given to staff members as a consequence of community engagement, fieldwork and partnerships may become part of the CDU Art Collection, provided the item meets the acquisition criteria, and is endorsed for acquisition by the Curator.

(12) All proposed acquisitions to the CDU Art Collection must be outlined by the Curator in an Art Collection Acquisitions Proposal for consideration and approval by the CDU Cultural Collections Advisory Board prior to accessioning.

(13) Written acquisition proposals, prepared by the Curator, must indicate the storage and longer-term handling requirements of any gifted work, so as to ascertain whether the University can provide a professional level of care for the work/s.

(14) The University will not accept conditional donations; however access provisions may be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Legal and Ethical Obligations

(15) The University owns all works of art in the CDU Art Collection over which it has clear legal title. Legal title will be held by the University, and may not be held by an individual or organisational unit such as a Faculty or Research Centre.

(16) The University will only acquire works of art for the CDU Art Collection provided that provenance and clear legal title can be confirmed. If clear legal title cannot be established or obtained at the time of proposing an acquisition for approval, the acquisition will not proceed.

(17) Gifts, donations, bequests and transfers will only be accepted where the donor has provenance and full legal title to the work and the gift is made on the basis of a total unencumbered transfer of ownership from the donor to the University.


(18) CDU Art Collection staff members will ensure that each work of art is:

  1. labelled with its unique collection number, using conservation approved materials and techniques; and
  2. recorded in the Collection Management System database with the following accession information:
    1. a unique accession number;
    2. title and/or description;
    3. identification photograph;
    4. where the item originated from and details of the creator;
    5. materials/medium;
    6. dimensions;
    7. provenance;
    8. donors or credit lines;
    9. insurance value;
    10. purchase price;
    11. location; and
    12. any specific handling/storage/display requirements.

Conservation and Storage

(19) The CDU Art Collection will be conserved using preventive conservation techniques to ensure works of art are appropriately stored in environments that are:

  1. clean and organised;
  2. pollutant and pest free;
  3. controlled to limit deterioration from light, humidity and temperature; and
  4. suitable to enable both conservation and access.

(20) Conservation treatments will be accurately and thoroughly documented, including by use of photographs and stored on the Collection Management System database for future reference.

(21) Conservation materials will be properly handled and stored in accordance with the University’s Work Health and Safety Policy and relevant legislation.

(22) To ensure preservation, all works of art will be stored in an environmentally controlled and secure Art Store, unless on display. Storage, framing and display supports will be determined by the Curator or the Curator's delegate.


(23) Physical access to the CDU Art Collection store or database will be controlled and visitors must be accompanied by an Art Gallery staff member at all times. Depending on resources and schedules, priority will be given to the following requests for access:

  1. Requests from the artist of a work.
  2. Requests by family members and descendants of the artist of an artwork.
  3. Requests by staff members for teaching and instruction purposes or other educational uses.
  4. Requests for formal academic research.
  5. Requests for artistic projects.
  6. Requests from other cultural and educational institutions.

(24) Access to sensitive information is restricted in accordance with the University’s Privacy Policy.

On-campus Display Program

(25) The CDU Art Collection On-campus Display Program contributes to ‘place-making’ and affirms the Northern Territory as the base of the University’s operations and influence. The display of items from the CDU Art Collection in offices, meeting rooms, foyers, corridors and libraries enhances the day-to-day operations of the University, its students, staff, visitors and the local community as a reminder of the unique geography, location and cultural diversity of the Northern Territory.

(26) CDU Art Gallery staff will manage requests for artwork to be displayed on-campus on a case-by-case basis. Approval will be at the discretion of the Curator. Identified locations will be assessed to ensure they meet specific environmental and security conditions. The CDU Art Collection On-campus Display Loan Agreement outlines the terms and conditions for on-campus loans of artworks.

(27) The installation of artworks for on-campus display will be scheduled intermittently depending on exhibition schedules, availability of external installation contractors and other CDU Art Gallery commitments.

(28) Works of art must not to be handled or removed from approved locations without the Curator's permission. Once installed, artworks must not be handled by any person other than CDU Art Gallery staff members or their official delegate/s.

Other Art Collections

(29) The formation, development and management of art collections distinct from the CDU Art Collection may only take place within the University with the permission of the Vice-Chancellor.

(30) Where individual art works have been acquired by purchase or gift, or art collections formed or inherited by organisational units or Faculties or developed as a consequence of research, field work or community engagement, their inclusion in the Art Collection may only occur if considered a priority for acquisition to the CDU Art Collection based on an assessment of their significance, relationship to collection criteria, aesthetics, condition, storage and handling requirements as determined by the Curator.

Recall of Art Works

(31) Objects or art works from the CDU Art Collection on display at approved locations on University campuses or centres may be recalled from display for the purposes of conservation (including ‘rest periods’), reframing, photography, research, external loan or exhibition. The Curator will give a minimum of three (3) weeks’ notice to recall an artwork. Art Gallery staff members may, however, remove artwork immediately if there is evidence of the artwork being damaged due to its environment, compromised security and/or the recipient failing to meet requirements outlined in the Loan Agreement.

(32) Replacement works will be installed at the discretion of the Curator, prioritised according to pending requests for on-campus displays of works of art, resources and exhibition schedules.

(33) Where CDU Art Collection art works are located in areas due for refurbishment or relocation, the organisational unit or Property and Facilities Management is required to contact the Curator no less than twenty-eight (28) days prior to the commencement of the refurbishment or relocation to arrange for the objects or art works to be retrieved by Art Collection staff members.

(34) Re-installation of artworks following refurbishment and relocation is at the discretion of the Curator, prioritised according to pending requests for on-campus displays of works of art, resources and exhibition schedules.


(35) Loans of art work to the University, or from the Art Collection, will be managed by the Art Collection staff members, with approval by the Curator.

(36) Incoming loans of art work by third parties and outgoing loans of art work from the CDU Art Collection will only be approved and arranged under the direction of the Curator.

(37) outgoing loans from the University will be documented on an Outgoing Loan form. Incoming loans will be documented on the appropriate external institution In-coming Loan form or as deemed appropriate by the Curator on a case-by-case basis. Both incoming and outgoing loans will be attributed a unique loan number.

Reproduction and Copyright

(38) The University will comply with all copyright legislation relating to the reproduction of artists’ work in the CDU Art Collection and on loan.

(39) Reproduction of artworks or objects in the CDU Art Collection may only occur where permission to reproduce artworks, for either commercial (i.e. publication) or non-commercial purposes, has been granted or reasonable efforts have been made to seek permission. Reproduction for non-commercial purposes may be permitted with written approval from the artist, their agent or representative. In the case of deceased artists a living relative may grant permission. Reproduction for commercial purposes may be permitted provided there is a written agreement in place between the University and the artist and appropriate reimbursement, in cash or in-kind to the artist, has been negotiated.

Collection Audit, Valuation and Insurance

(40) Art works and objects accessioned into the CDU Art Collection, and recorded in the Collection Management System database, are covered by the University’s insurance policy.

(41) All art works and objects in the CDU Art Collection will be insured at fair market price, as determined by independent valuations. Financial valuations and audits will occur annually, at end of year, in collaboration with the Finance.

(42) Physical valuations will occur every three (3) years with an inspection undertaken by an external auditor. Desktop valuations are performed for years in between the physical valuations, based on accessions and de-accessions to the Collection. Annual desktop audits are also undertaken annually based on de-accession reports and accession reports.

(43) The results of scheduled audits and valuations of the CDU Art Collection will be entered into the Collection Management System database to form part of each art work’s ongoing record.


(44) The de-accessioning of a work of art will take place only after all due diligence has been undertaken to confirm legal title and a formal assessment has been made as to its significance to the CDU Art Collection. Reasons for de-accessioning and/or disposal of a work of art from the CDU Art Collection may include:

  1. inferior quality; (determined in consultation with at least two (2) accredited experts in the relevant field of art);
  2. new information that leads to a reappraisal of its relevance to the Collection, quality, authenticity or provenance;
  3. duplication within the Collection;
  4. claim of ownership from an external party that can be substantiated;
  5. theft or loss;
  6. irreparable damage or serious deterioration in condition; and/or
  7. lack of relevance and therefore deemed to be outside the scope of the Collection.

(45) Works to be de-accessioned will be documented by the Curator via a de-accession proposal indicating the reason, means and date of disposal and submitted to the CDU Cultural Collections Advisory Board for approval prior to any action being taken. The Chair of the Board may request a cooling-off period of six (6) months before a de-accession is implemented. Otherwise the art work will be de-accessioned within such time as deemed appropriate by the Board, or the Curator should the Board not set a specified time.

(46) De-accessioned works will be recorded as such with the associated artwork record on the Collection Management System database and the unique accession number will become inactive.

(47) Where special cases of works of art are proposed for de-accessioning that were originally donated to the University, the Curator will undertake appropriate consultation. The original donor or their estate will be notified of the University’s intent, including an explanation of the reason/s for de-accession, and approached to see if the work can be returned to the donor or their estate in the first instance, unless the donation was made under the Commonwealth Cultural Gifts Program, in which case the art work cannot be returned to the donor.

(48) Consideration may be given to transferring a de-accessioned object or work of art to a more appropriate public collection, either by sale or exchange or gift. Monies received from the de-accessioning and disposal of works of art will be used solely for the purposes of further developing the Art Collection through new acquisitions.

Damage or Loss

(49) In the event of an art work or object being damaged, lost or stolen while on display on CDU campuses or centres, the organisational unit responsible must notify the Art Gallery staff immediately. The University will formally record damaged or lost artworks on the Collection Management System database.

(50) Should damage to an art work be proven to have been the result of negligence of a person or persons within the organisational unit, that unit will be responsible for costs associated with the repair of the damaged object or work or any excess relating to University insurance claims.

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Section 6 - Non-Compliance

(51) Non-compliance with Governance Documents is considered a breach of the Code of Conduct – Staff or the Code of Conduct – Students, as applicable, and is treated seriously by the University. Reports of concerns about non-compliance will be managed in accordance with the applicable disciplinary procedures outlined in the Charles Darwin University and Union Enterprise Agreement 2022 and the Code of Conduct – Students.

(52) Complaints may be raised in accordance with the Complaints and Grievance Policy and Procedure - Employees and Complaints Policy - Students.

(53) All staff members have an individual responsibility to raise any suspicion, allegation or report of fraud or corruption in accordance with the Fraud and Corruption Control Policy and Whistleblower Reporting (Improper Conduct) Procedure.