Deaccession of Artwork in Hennepin County Libraries Policy

Hennepin County Library Administrative Policy


To establish a process for deaccessioning original artwork in Hennepin County libraries.


  • Respect the creative rights of artists
  • Keep the deaccession process as clear and simple as possible
  • Deaccession artwork that is unsafe, not repairable or no longer meets the Library’s needs


  • Artwork: Any piece of original art that is owned by Hennepin County Library (HCL). This includes pieces owned by Hennepin County Library through the commissioned public art process or have been donated to the Library
  • Deaccession: Permanent removal of artwork from Hennepin County Library
  • Life spans:
    • Short-term – up to five years
    • Mid-span – up to 15 years
    • Long term – up to 50 years
  • Permanent or site-integrated – part of the site/structure and cannot be removed

Library Guidelines

  • Artwork must continue to meet the original selection considerations outlined by Hennepin County Library Board’s Commissioned Public Art and Art Donations policies
  • Celebrates and explores the unique histories, cultures and environment of the community
  • Has broad and timeless appeal
  • Represents artistic excellence and innovation
  • Is designed for a publicly visible and accessible area
  • Is safe, durable and able to withstand theft, vandalism and exposure to the environment
  • Requires low maintenance

Reasons for deaccession

  • Library renovation or replacement

    • Loss of site: In case of loss of site, every attempt will be made to find a suitable new location for the artwork in the community. Lack of proper storage could merit deaccessioning
    • Site alteration: If the site for a piece of site-integrated artwork is structurally damaged or otherwise altered so that it can no longer accommodate the work, or if the piece is made publicly inaccessible by a change in its surrounding environment such as new construction or demolition, that artwork may be considered for deaccession
  • Security

    • The condition or security of the artwork cannot be reasonably guaranteed
  • Authenticity

    • The artwork is discovered to be inauthentic, fraudulent or stolen
  • Damage

    • The artwork has been damaged beyond repair, damaged to the extent that it no longer represents the artist’s intent or damaged to the extent that the expenses of restoration and repair are found to exceed the current market value of the artwork
  • Use of resources

    • The artwork requires excessive maintenance or repair, and/or has faults of design or workmanship
    • The cost of repair, improvements or conservation is more than fifty percent of the original commissioned costs or current appraised value of the artwork
    • The Library can no longer meet the donor’s restrictions (for gifts) or other obligations for the artwork

Deaccession Process

Artwork considered for deaccession will use the following process:

  • Initiating the review:
    • A library’s artwork will be evaluated when the building undergoes a renovation or replacement
    • Artwork in storage will be reviewed on a regular basis
  • The Library Director, the Hennepin County Library Board President and the Executive Director of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library will coordinate the formation of an Art Deaccession Committee.
    • The Committee may include: Library Board and the Friends of the Hennepin County Library Board Members; Hennepin County Facilities Services and HCL staff; and local art and art conservation experts
    • The Library Board appointees will be active participants in the deaccession process and report progress to the full Library Board
  • Art experts may be engaged to determine the artwork’s artistic value and conservation costs
  • Life spans that have been assigned to the work during the commissioning process shall be taken into consideration as part of requests for deaccession
  • For artworks that have not been assigned a life span, experts may be engaged to assist in assigning a life span to the artwork, based on the life expectancy of the artwork’s materials and fabrication methods
  • If possible, conversations with the artist (in the case of commissioned public art) or the donor (in the case of an art donation) will be held to consider alternate locations or deaccession
    • Alternate location: Another governmental or non-profit agency may be better suited to provide care and maintenance for the artwork
    • Deaccession: If a decision to sell an artwork is made, the artist/donor will be given a first right-of-refusal to purchase the piece before it is submitted to the County’s “disposal of surplus county property” process
  • Every effort will be made to explore all options
  • The Art Deaccession Committee will make a recommendation to the Library Director for a final decision
  • Records of deaccessioned artwork are permanently maintained in Hennepin County Library records

Policy Review

This administrative policy is reviewed every five years by the Library Director (or designee). Upon completion of that review, this policy is revised or reaffirmed.

Policy History

Next Review Date: 6/2022
Adopted: 6/1/2017