The Weisman Art Museum has a wonderful art rental program that allows students, employees, and departments to rent works of art by the semester or the year. I knew of the program, but what I didn’t realize is that it has been part of the Weisman/University Gallery since the very beginning. The rental program began in 1934 at the Gallery, where framed print reproductions were available for students to rent for only 25 cents per academic quarter — a cheap way to decorate drab dorm or department walls. One 1942 letter of appreciation from the Agricultural Education Department stated:
May we express our thanks and appreciation for the privilege of using some of your pictures in our Department during the spring quarter? The pictures were picked up by some of your men the other day, and we hope that they came back to your Department in good shape. Now, our walls look like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.
In the files (mixed in with all the notices of unreturned or late artwork) I also discovered these promotional photographs from the mid-1940s of stylish patrons renting artworks.
Areca Roe is a MFA graduate from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Art, with a concentration in photography and minor in Museum Studies. Areca completed her project involvement in Fall 2011, and has subsequently been involved with the University as an artist in residence at the University’s Bell Museum of Natural History.