Davis Gallery

The Davis Gallery at Houghton House


Exhibitions Policy
The exhibitions program supports the mission of the Davis Gallery at Houghton House and the educational goals of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Exhibitions at the Gallery are intended to enrich the curriculum of the Colleges and to provide an educational and scholarly forum outside the classroom, laboratory, and studio. Faculty and student participation are essential to the exhibition program, from research and planning to installations and related educational programs. Faculty are encouraged to utilize exhibitions in their courses and to engage students in the study of original works of art.

The rotating exhibitions program is broadly based, presenting diverse media and genres. Contemporary and historical exhibitions include creative work by regional, national, and international artists including works from the Collections. Exhibitions are organized and curated by faculty, the Visual Arts Curator, and traveling exhibitions organizations, drawing objects from the Collections, museums and arts institutions, artists, private lenders, and commercial galleries. By presenting significant works and exhibitions utilizing high standards of display, the Gallery strives to be recognized for excellence in aesthetics and scholarly and cultural activities.

The Davis Gallery presents a program of exhibitions which begins each year with a faculty exhibition which might focus on a particular artist or architect or might be a group show of studio faculty.

The Gallery accepts exhibition proposals from faculty and independent artists. Proposals are reviewed each year by the full Department of Art and Architecture. After feasibility is determined, responsibilities and resources for projects are and to recommend and an exhibitions schedule is determined for the following year.

The exhibitions program is complemented by related educational materials and activities such as catalogues and instructional texts, lectures, workshops and demonstrations, and critiques devised by faculty and students. Individual and class tours are provided by Gallery staff, students, curators, and artists upon request.

Collection Development Policy

The Collections of Hobart & William Smith Colleges

The Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges contain many original works of art in media such as drawing, painting, prints, sculpture, photography, and decorative objects. The Collections extend from the mid-nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries.

The Collections provide students, faculty, scholars, and a broad regional community the opportunity to study and enjoy original works of art. Works of art from the Collections are regularly utilized for exhibition, classroom, and research purposes.

Collections are also made accessible to the public through an active campus display program and regular exhibitions in The Davis Gallery at Houghton House. Works of art from the Collections are on display throughout more than twenty administrative and academic buildings across the campus such as in Admissions, the Abbe Center for Jewish Life, Alumni House, the Warren Hunting Smith Library, Coxe Hall and Stern Hall.

The Collections were added online to The Davis Gallery website: http://www.hws.edu/academics/art/collections.aspx

A description of The Collections, Collection Highlights, Recent Acquisitions, a Collectors’ Corner, and the Dove Award Works are featured as well as the full collection alphabetically by artist or culture. Reproduction rights for these works have been actively sought and often granted.

Professional oversight has now been established for both the art collections under the Visual Arts Curator. The curator has ongoing duties relating to collections management, user access, presentation and display, and community concerns regarding the collections.

Works are added to the Collections by gift and purchase upon approval by the Visual Arts Curator with the advice of the Department of Art and Architecture. The Colleges do not guarantee that all gifts will be added to the Art Collection. Inappropriate works of art or duplicates of items already in the collection may be sold, traded for other materials, given away, or discarded.

Registration forms, donor files, and other documentary evidence for the pieces in the Collections are maintained. The Collections are photographed and kept on file as well as on the Colleges’ website and in ARTstor. Conservation records are also kept of the works in the Collections.

Collection Development

Date range: from mid-nineteenth century through the present


  • The Colleges can not develop or maintain a collection earlier than 1860 due to costs and availability
  • The main teaching focus of the studio art and architecture programs is in the area of modernism, roughly beginning in 1860

Geographic range: American, European, African, and Asian


  • The teaching program of the art and architecture department covers these areas extensively
  • These areas have available and affordable art within our date ranges

Media range: primarily works on paper, but all fine arts media acceptable


  • The teaching program of the art and architecture department covers all fine arts media
  • Works on paper are the most affordable, but gifts of other media are always welcome


According to the American Alliance of Museums, de-accessioning is a necessary and appropriate tool in collections management, and a way for a museum to refine its collections. Often times, an object does not fit the organization’s scope of collections.

Participants should include a cross-section of staff involved in the collections and members of the governing authority.


  • Assemble and review the information on proposed de-accessions
  • Compare this list to the Collection Development statement
  • What is the historical reason you hold this material
  • Are there political considerations that are a barrier to disposal
  • What are the costs to keeping the object compare to the benefits of disposal
  • Modify the original list
  • Find a reputable organization to sell the works for your organization


Hobart and William Smith Colleges welcome donations of visual arts materials as a valuable way to develop the Colleges’ Art Collection. All gifts entail initial expenses to the Colleges to review, register, frame, restore, and process, as well as continuing expenses to house and preserve materials that have been added to the collection. Therefore, the Colleges must be selective in accepting gifts to ensure donated materials support the Colleges’ goals for collection development. The donor is strongly encouraged to consider a gift to support the preservation of the contributed materials.

The Visual Arts Curator, on consultation with members of the Department of Art, will review the material from a description or itemized inventory supplied by the donor or by examining the collection itself and will determine whether the content, format, physical condition, and size of the gift are suitable for addition to the Colleges’ Art Collection. The donor will be notified whether or not the Colleges will accept the gift by the Office of Institutional Advancement.

Donors are responsible for delivery of donations.

The Colleges do not guarantee that all gifts will be added to the Art Collection. Inappropriate works of art or duplicates of items already in the collection may be sold, traded for other materials, given away, or discarded. The Colleges do not guarantee that gifts which are added to the collection will be kept in perpetuity. Gifts are accepted with the proviso that the Colleges become the sole owner of the donated visual arts materials and therefore determine retention, location, registering procedures, and conditions of access.

The donor bears full responsibility for determining the value of the gift by a professional appraiser. The Colleges will not provide appraisals of gifts to the collection. For gifts in-kind with a value of $5,000 or more, the donor is required to file Form 8283 (“Noncash Charitable Contributions”), if he/she wishes to claim the gift as a charitable deduction. The donor is instructed to fill out this form, obtain the appropriate appraisals and signatures, and deliver it to HWS for the Colleges representative to sign. The Colleges will then return Form 8283 to the donor to be filed with the donor’s tax return. If the donated asset is sold within three years, the Colleges are required to file Form 8282 (“Donee Information Return”) with the IRS and provide a copy to the donor.

The donor will receive a letter acknowledging his/her gift from the Office of Institutional Advancement and the Visual Arts.

All gifts accepted for addition to the Art Collection will be integrated into the existing collection. The location of gifts within the collection will be determined by the Visual Arts Curator. Locations will be based on the format, physical condition, content, and value of the materials.


Creation of registrations forms, donor files and other documentary evidence for the pieces in the art collection is collected. A copy of the form appears later in this document.

Reproduction Rights

We gather reproduction rights for the works in the art collection. We have created an art collection page for the Colleges’ website. A copy of the form appears later in this document.


An assessment of the artworks condition and recommendations for conservation methods are continuously made.


An annual exhibition of works from the art collection is staged in The Davis Gallery at Houghton House. This is one of six exhibitions in the gallery each year.

Art Collection Internship

The Art Collection Internship is now being offered every term. In addition to creating catalogs and exhibitions of the art collection, interns will be working on conservation measures, brochures, websites and reproduction rights in the future.


Through donations and major purchases, The Colleges' Art Collection has grown into a significant permanent collection of artworks. This important resource is a visual library, teaching about art, and an aesthetic enhancement to the Colleges’ environment.

In order to assure the consistency, quality, and long-term care of artworks the Colleges have established the role of Visual Arts Curator who, in coordination with the Department of Art and Architecture advises the President and the Provost on the acquisition, display and conservation of the pieces held by the Colleges. Upon acceptance/acquisition into the Art Collection, it will be the responsibility of the Visual Arts Curator to ensure that an artwork will be given an accession number, catalogued, photographed, maintained, stored and/or displayed according to Collection Policies.

Other organizations or buildings interested in contributing to, or displaying pieces from, the Art Collection should consult with the Visual Arts Curator.



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