Cultural Affairs Office

Gifts of Artwork to the City of Houston

Donation Guidelines

Artworks considered for acceptance must be suitable for public presentation, consistent with the City’s definition of Civic Art , and endowed with a maintenance fund for long term care.

Gifts of art that address gaps in the City’s Collection are most desirable. Current interests are increasing the number outdoor artworks dedicated to women and prioritizing placement of artwork in areas lacking public art.

Prospective donors will need to suggest two preliminary locations for consideration.

Prospective donors must supply a range of documents for the review process and must assume all costs associated with the review process, transportation, installation and maintenance endowment.

Examples of common review documents include:

  • Provenance
  • An artist biography
  • A waiver from the artist to certain rights under the Visual Artist Rights Act (.pdf)
  • An appraisal by a certified professional
  • A conservator report
  • A site plan and schematic rendering
  • Engineering drawings
  • Letters of support from stakeholders such as: adjacent property owners, civic associations, district Council Member, etc.

The review process will vary, depending on the medium and the proposed location. An example of the process is:

  1. Prospective donor schedules consultations with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the affected city department to explore if the artwork qualifies for gifting to the City Collection, or to determine what information is needed to make an initial determination and identify the necessary review documents.
  2. If the initial determination is positive, the prospective donor can proceed with preparing the review documents.
  3. The prospective donor submits the review documents to the Houston Arts Alliance for review and a recommendation from the Civic Art Committee.
  4. MOCA and the affected department determine if acceptance of the gift of art is feasible and if so, requests the Legal department to prepare a donation agreement for City Council authorization/approval, which requires:
    • Confirmation of a maintenance endowment with Houston Arts Foundation (generally 10% of the value of the artwork but may vary depending on the nature of the artwork and anticipated care)
    • Artist (VARA) waiver (.pdf)
    • Ownership of the artwork transfers to the City on completion of the installation

Diplomatic and ceremonial gifts are handled by the Mayor’s Office of Trade and International Affairs (MOTIA).

Prospective gifts of art from a foreign governments and related groups for the permanent art collection will include MOTIA in the initial consultation. 

Contact Information:
Phone: 832.393.1099