The Oberlin Review

Art Rental: A Photo Essay

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Art Rental is a distinctive program beloved by the Oberlin community. It gives students the opportunity to hang works of art from the likes of Pablo Picasso or Salvador Dali in their college rooms for a semester, for only $5 per work.

Oberlin’s Art Rental program was originally founded in 1940 by art historian Ellen Johnson, OC ’33. Since then, other colleges have initiated art rental programs of their own. Harvard College started a program in 1972 which allows students to rent art for $30 an academic year, and in 2016 Kenyon College started a program allowing students to rent art for $10 a semester. 

Oberlin’s Art Rental program is a major draw for some prospective students who are deciding where to go to school, a cherished memory for countless alumni, and a treasured tradition for the current students who choose to return to the Allen Memorial Art Museum throughout the night for check-ins in order to acquire an art piece. All in all, it’s a fun, cost-effective way to spice up a dorm room. 

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