The Oberlin Review

Art Rental Program Has Students’ Best Interest At Heart

Andria Derstine, John G. W. Cowles Director Allen Memorial Art Museum

February 21, 2020

 The Art Rental program at the Allen Memorial Art Museum has, for the past 80 years, been an important aspect of the AMAM’s offerings and a cherished tradition. Hence, it was with great interest that I and other museum staff read the opinion piece “Art Rental Needs to Address Accessibility Concerns,” published in The Oberlin Review Feb. 14, while noting with dismay that many fewer students than normal took part in Art Rental on Feb. 15, leaving the museum with 86 unrented works out of 395. Last September, following advertising by the Art Students Committee, approximately 35 percent more students than average came to the event, with those at the end of the line going away empty-handed (“New Approach to Art Renta...

Art Rental Needs to Address Accessibility Concerns

Devyn Malouf and Katie Lucey

February 14, 2020

 In light of the recent changes to Fourth Meal, many students are hoping to preserve the few remaining campuswide traditions at Oberlin. Art Rental, which is completely student-run, is arguably one of the most celebrated, anticipated events of every semester — and has been for the past 80 years. Given the longevity of the tradition, the pure wonderment that it offers, and its frequent promotion by the Office of Admissions, Art Rental should provide a more accessible opportunity for all students to rent a piece of art from the expansive and ever-changing collection at the Allen Memorial Art Museum. Founded in 1940 by Professor of Modern Art Ellen Johnson, OC ’33, Art Rental provides students with the opportun...

Works of art are lined up before students arrive to rent them for the semester.

New Approach to Art Rental Attracts Record Number of Students

September 20, 2019

A crowd of over 340 students lined up outside the Allen Memorial Art Museum last Saturday to participate in this semester’s Art Rental Program. For only $5, students were able to rent pieces of art from the museum’s collection, an event that College paraphernalia has boasted since 1940.  However, as College fourth-year and chair of the newly-formed Art Student Committee Jacey Davidson explained, Art Rental is not always easy to navigate.  “As someone who has participated in it for a long time, it’s been really hard,” David...

Art Rental: A Photo Essay

Kate Fishman and Katherine MacPhail

February 22, 2019

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...

College seniors Brian James and Moses Riley hold their rented pieces, the last two available, from this year’s Art Rental event. Students who participate in one of Oberlin’s most noteworthy traditions can rent up to two pieces of art for the entire semester.

Art Rental Sets New Record, Sells Out by 10 a.m.

September 21, 2018

Many students were discouraged from participating in the annual Art Rental at the Allen Memorial Art Museum last Saturday when the sign-up list was posted several days earlier than usual. “I think it was annoying that it was put up so early, but the conventions around the whole system are so fuzzy. Since it’s so casually student-run, itdoesn’t surprise me that someone did this,” College junior Della Copes-Finke said. She and her roommate decided not to attend Art Rental this year after...

More than Matisse: Art Rental Continues to Broaden Arts Exposure

Rachel Mead

September 9, 2016

The Art Rental Program at the Allen Memorial Art Museum has been active for over 75 years, allowing students to rent pieces of art from the museum’s collection every semester for only $5 each. Professor of Modern Art Ellen Johnson, OC ’33, founded the program based on her dedication to bringing people closer to art, according to AMAM Registrar Lucille Stiger. Johnson believed that “if people lived with art, they would develop a greater appreciation for it,” Stiger said. This rings true for Kevin Lin, OC ’17, who has participated in Art Rental every semester he’s been at Oberlin. “It’s a daily, constant reminder. You can pay as much attention to it as you want, but by having it in your day-to-day life,...

A student carries a piece of artwork out of the Allen Memorial Art Museum Saturday morning at the conclusion of Art Rental. Inclement weather and a new organization system resulted in a less chaotic event than in previous years.

First-Year Leaders Reorganize Art Rental

September 18, 2015

At 5:50 p.m. last Friday, I made my way over to the Allen Memorial Art Museum in hopes of getting my hands on a priceless piece of art. The Art Rental program was set to begin at 8 a.m. the following day, and although I had heard murmurs of crazed art enthusiasts already arriving hours before, I figured I was relatively early. This naiveté, I soon discovered, is what separated the Art Rental veterans from imitators such as myself. I snagged an unimpressive 108th spot on the digital waiting list. The...

College seniors Kate Hanick, Seth Flatt, Aubrey Pongluelert and Nick Olson and College sophomore Simeon Deutsch stand in line moments before Art Rental officially begins. Throngs of students camped out at the Allen Memorial Art Museum Friday night to ensure they got their top picks.

Honor Code Aids Resolution of Art Rental Debacle

September 19, 2014

Art Rental occurs every semester, but last Friday night — the night before Art Rental — students and staff witnessed a spectacle that made the experience memorable. The evening began innocuously enough. Outside the back entrance of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, students pitched tents to the melodious strains of guitar music wafting from the courtyard. Some played cards, while others hunched over problem sets, notebooks or Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The night’s excitement, however,...

Introduction to Art Rental: A First-Timer’s Experience

Nicole Gutman

February 22, 2013

I had never participated in Art Rental before, but I wanted to give it a try. Before I started at Oberlin I met College junior Brenna Larson who, when we met for dinner, told me about Art Rental. The big thing she mentioned was the list. Most people come to the museum the night before Art Rental begins to get a good spot on the list. If you leave the courtyard, they will take your name off that list and put you at the bottom when you come back. Not that being at the bottom is a terrible thing — you'd just end up with whatever’s left. This little fact worried me, as I'm not one to stay up until 2 a.m. I asked a friend from my dorm if she wouldn't mind waking me up and taking me to the museum. She said she wouldn’t....

Angry Mob at Art Rental Reveals Oberlin’s Ugly Side

The Editorial Board

September 21, 2012

Art rental is one of the most treasured Oberlin traditions, not just for the opportunity it presents — priceless art spending a semester in your dorm or apartment — but for the event itself: renting a tent from the Outings Club and camping out in the courtyard, imbibing illegal substances on school property after dark and listening to classmates howl their favorite songs late into the night. It’s a fundamentally communal event, which is why last weekend was such an unfortunate sight. By 6:45 a.m., the sign-up list, a motley collection of papers scotch-taped to a pillar, was up to 220 people, and the lines of sleeping bodies filled the courtyard and several hallways. As 8 a.m. approached, a group gathered near...

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