Works of art reflect the values of their time; as such, they may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While some artwork in the PPS collection does not represent PPS' values or views of today's society, it is presented as originally created because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.


    The art collection at PPS includes gifts from students, families, alumni and other community members, as well as from the General Services Administration through New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs. There is also art in our schools which reflects ongoing student work. In all cases, art at PPS buildings is managed by PPS Planning and Real Estate in close coordination with PPS Risk and Legal.


    Through the WPA between 1932-1938, artisans from every medium were hired to create works of art for public spaces as part of what is considered the single greatest work reformation program in US history. Artworks produced through these programs are the property of the Federal Government and are on loan to schools and public institutions throughout the United States. PPS has worked with the United States General Services Administration to catalog New Deal artwork in the District.


    PPS appreciates the desire to display student or local artists' work and individualize school facilities to represent the school to the surrounding community. The following requirements apply to all schools considering changes to their artwork on display.

    • All existing artwork is the property of PPS or the Federal Government and may not be sold, gifted, or reproduced.
    • All artwork changes including moves within a school or to another school, acquisitions, and removals are reviewed and approved by the Art Management Committee. Legal requirements under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) may require specific actions to be taken prior to any additions or removals of art. VARA provides protections for art work created within a specific period of time and all proposals must align with the requirements set forth in this law.
    • Art moves and installations of all kinds are projects which require full design review and management support. Permanent installations such as grouted, cast, or direct-painted works are not preferred as they present obstacles to efficient and equitable facility maintenance. 
      • Scheduling art changes: For Art Management Committee change approval, please allow 20 to 28* weeks of processing time for a proposed change. *Please note that the change request approval process is in addition to that required for permitting and completing the work.
      • All interior and exterior displays must comply with current codes and standards.
      • Both permanent and temporary (not to exceed 90 days) exterior displays are likely to be subject to City permitting requirements with related fees, as well as design review and community engagement requirements. See this LINK for more information.
      • All permit package development, fees, and other requirements are the responsibility of the school or group proposing the work.
      • Artwork attached to a school's exterior will not be approved without envelope (building enclosure system) and engineering consultants' details submitted in advance to PPS Facilities for review and approval. The timeline for this review and approval process is typically 1 year or longer.
      • Materials required for Art Committee review of a request are outlined in this document LINK.