Students Rent Original Art Prints for Their Dorm Rooms

Students Rent Prints from Harvard Art Museum
A print of Picasso's “Goat's Skull on the Table,” one of a series of 150, hangs in the dorm room of McKinley O. Rodriguez ’18. "It's really exciting to think that Picasso has touched this work of art, it's not just a poster," Rodriguez said.

Alongside the paper posters and calendars that usually adorn Harvard students' dorm room walls now hang some real works of art—original prints of famous paintings by Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, rented from the Harvard Art Museums.

Over the course of two days in early September, the Harvard Art Museums rented out 167 of 275 original prints they offered to students through its student print rental program, reestablished after a seven-year hiatus during the museums’ renovation and expansion.

The rental program, which is open to all undergraduate and graduate students living in Harvard-managed housing, rents original prints from the museums’ collection to students for the full academic year. The program offered prints from artists such as Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Picasso, and Warhol.

Over the summer, the Harvard Art Museums publicized the program through student email lists. Students signed up for time slots at the Art Study Center, where they could browse the collection of works offered.

Jessica M. Diedalis, the Harvard Art Museums’ curricular registrar, said the use of the study center was a departure from previous years, when large crowds gathered in the museums’ central courtyard for the event.

An anonymous donation to the Fogg Art Museum established the print rental program, which dates back to 1972, according to Diedalis. The donor, who made a gift for the acquisition of prints by contemporary American artists, stipulated that the museum make them available to students.

Prior to the Harvard Art Museums’ temporary suspension of the print rental program in 2008, renting prints cost between $25 and $100, depending on size, according to Jennifer Allen, the Harvard Art Museums’ director of collections management.

While the reestablished program has set a $50 universal rental fee for the maintenance and care of each print, acquiring these works can cost “well over” that price, according to Allen.

Other schools, including Williams and MIT, also offer their own student art rental programs through university art collections, she said.

Undergraduates said renting original prints from museums created more welcoming spaces in their dorm rooms.

McKinley O. Rodriguez ’18, who rented a Picasso print, said renting prints “would be a great opportunity to have something more special than just a poster.”

Brandon A. Wright ’18, who rented a print by Robert Freimarck, was also surprised by the wide variety of prints offered to students.

“Harvard has so many resources, obviously, but [the student rental program] is one of those examples where I was surprised at how available those resources are to us,” Wright said.

—Staff writer Kristina D. Lorch can be reached at