Chapter 37: Art Commission

Section 851.

Section 851. Constitution and appointment.

  1. There shall be an art commission the members of which shall be the mayor, who may appoint a person to represent him and replace such representative at his pleasure, the president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the president of the New York Public Library (Astor, Lenox and Tilden foundations), the president of the Brooklyn Museum, one painter, one sculptor, one architect, and one landscape architect, all of whom shall be residents of the city, and three other residents of the city no one of whom shall be a painter, sculptor, architect, landscape architect or active member of any other profession in the fine arts.
  2. All the members of the commission shall serve without compensation for their service on the commission. Those whose service is not ex officio shall be appointed by the mayor from a list of not less than three times the number to be appointed, such list to be submitted by the Fine Arts Federation of New York. In case the Fine Arts Federation shall fail to present a list of nominees within three months from the time when a vacancy occurs, the mayor shall appoint without such nomination. In case the mayor shall fail to appoint within one year from the time when a vacancy occurs, such vacancy shall be filled by the commission for any balance of the unexpired term.
  3. In all matters which come before the commission pertaining to work under the special charge of an agency, the head of such agency may act as a member of the commission. Each president of an institution who is an ex officio member may, by a writing filed with the executive director of the commission, appoint a trustee of the institution of which he is president to serve in his place as member of the commission. Such appointment shall be revocable at any time by such president and shall terminate whenever he ceases to be president.

Section 852.

Section 852. Terms of members; vacancies.

All appointments of members of the commission whose service is not ex officio shall be for a term of three years commencing at the expiration of the terms of the present incumbents, except that appointments to fill vacancies shall be for the unexpired term. All vacancies shall be filled in accordance with the provisions of section eight hundred fifty-one.

Section 853.

Section 853. Officers; procedure; expenses.

  1. The commission shall elect a president, vice-president and secretary from its own members, whose terms of office shall be for one year and until their successors are elected and have qualified. The commission shall keep minutes of its proceedings and adopt its own rules of procedure, which shall be public documents. Six commissioners, excluding any who may be acting temporarily as representatives of an agency pursuant to subdivision c of section eight hundred fifty-one, shall constitute a quorum.
  2. The offices and staff necessary for the commission to fulfill its obligations shall be provided for the commission, and the amount of its necessary expenses shall annually be provided in the budget.

Section 854.

Section 854. Approvals by the commission.

  1. The term “works of art” as used in this chapter shall apply to and include all sculptures, paintings, mural decorations, mosaics, stained glass, statues, carvings or castings in high or low relief, inscriptions, monuments, and fountains installed or erected or to be installed or erected upon or over land belonging to the city whether the works of art be the property of the city itself or of an institution, corporation or private individual, and whether intended for ornament, commemoration or actual use.
  2. The term “structure” as used in this chapter shall apply to and include all buildings, walks, bridges and viaducts and their approaches, exterior walls, arches, docks, piers, gates, fences, steps, curbing, distinctive pavings, benches, lamps, posts, traffic signals, and signage other than signage guiding, directing or otherwise regulating and controlling traffic erected pursuant to chapter seventy-one of the charter.
  3. On request or on its own initiative, the art commission may consult with and advise any such agency as to the suitability of preliminary plans for any work of art under consideration for acquisition or the design or location of any work of art or any structure under consideration for installation or erection in, on or over any property of the city.
  4. No work of art shall hereafter become the property of the city by gift or otherwise, or be purchased, commissioned, contracted for, accepted, erected or placed in or upon any public building, or allowed to be placed on or extend into or over any public street, avenue, highway, square, park, dock or pier or other public place belonging to the city, unless such work of art or a design of the same, accompanied by a specification and an estimate of the cost thereof, a plan showing its proposed location, and, if the commission deems it necessary or desirable, also a model, and any other pertinent information as may be required by the commission including a plan in such detail as the commission may require for the maintenance or conservation thereof, shall first have been submitted to the commission by the agency having jurisdiction, and such work of art or the design thereof, its location, and the plan for its maintenance or conservation, shall have been approved in writing by the commission. The commission shall have authority to bar final payment for the purchase or erection of any such work of art if the president or executive director of the commission certifies that the work of art has not been completed substantially in accordance with the approval of the commission.
  5. No structure, except as provided in subdivision f or h, shall be erected or placed upon land belonging to the city, and no arch, bridge, structure or approach which is the property of any corporation or private individual shall extend over or upon any street, avenue, highway, park or public place belonging to the city, and no new lines, grades or plotting or layout of public ways and grounds shall be accepted or work in pursuance thereof commenced unless the design thereof, accompanied by an estimate of cost and a plan showing the proposed location, shall have been submitted to the commission and the design, and in the case of a building or other structure its location in relation to existing or projected developments in the vicinity, shall have been approved in writing by it. If exterior wall, fences, gates, steps, curbing, distinctive paving, benches, lamps, posts, signage, traffic signals or other structures of the same type and design are considered for installation at various locations, the commission may approve the type and design with specifications as to the types of location for which they would be approved as suitable without passing on each individual installation. In addition, replacements-in-kind need not be approved by the commission. The commission shall have the authority to bar final payment for such structure, or for such lines, grades or plotting or layout of public ways and grounds if the president or executive director of the commission certifies that the work has not been erected or placed substantially in accordance with the approval of the commission.
  6. In the case of any building or other structure that is part of a construction or other project, where the total estimated cost of such project shall not exceed one million dollars, the approval of the commission pursuant to this section shall not be required if the mayor or the council shall in writing request the commission not to act. Nothing in this section shall be construed as intended to impair the concurrent power of the commissioner of parks and recreation to refuse his or her consent to the erection or acceptance of any public monument or memorial or other work of any sort within any park, square or other public place under his jurisdiction.
  7. Designs for all works of art or structures intended for temporary use in a fixed location during a period of more than one year, shall be subject to the same forms of procedure as those adopted for permanent use; but the approval of such designs shall be for a period to be determined by the commission, not to exceed three years, after which the commission shall either extend the period or order the removal of the work of art or structure.
  8. Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of this chapter, if an approval of a structure pursuant to subdivision e of this section primarily concerns a landmark, landmark site, landmark interior, an existing building within a scenic landmark, or an action within an historic district, and also requires a report or determination by the landmarks preservation commission pursuant to chapter three of title twenty-five of the administrative code of the city of New York, then, in that event, the powers and duties of the art commission with respect to such structures pursuant to such subdivision e and subdivisions f and g of this section shall instead be exercised by the landmarks preservation commission pursuant to its own rules and procedures. If such commission shall fail to take action upon any matter legally submitted to it within sixty days after such submission, its action shall be deemed unnecessary. Any action taken by such commission pursuant to this subdivision shall be filed with the art commission.

Section 855.

Section 855. Time for decision limited.

If the commission shall fail to take action upon any matter legally submitted to it within sixty days after such submission, its action shall be deemed unnecessary.

Section 856.

Section 856. Maintenance, repair, removal, relocation or alteration of works of art.

  1. The commission shall periodically examine all works of art belonging to the city, shall make, request or approve detailed recommendations for their cleaning, maintenance and repair, and shall have general and curatorial supervision over such works of art belonging to the city and their cleaning, maintenance and repair. Except as provided in subdivision d, no cleaning, restoration, repair, alteration, removal or relocation of any work of art shall be contracted for, commenced, or prosecuted, unless approved in writing by the commission. Except as provided in subdivision d, the commission shall have the authority to bar final payment for such work if the president or the executive director of the commission certifies that the work has not been completed substantially in accordance with the commission’s approval.
  2. If a city agency fails to expend funds allocated for the proper maintenance of works of art, or allows undue deterioration to occur which threatens the visual and structural integrity of any work of art under its jurisdiction, the commission shall be authorized to review the procedures governing the care of said work and may request the agency to relocate such work to a suitable location approved by the commission.
  3. Before any work of art is repaired, altered, demolished, removed, or relocated, the art commission shall be notified and given an opportunity, not to exceed sixty days, to pass on the disposition of such work of art. The commission may, with the consent of the mayor, order the work of art to be preserved. Except as provided in subdivision d, no work of art shall be altered, demolished, removed or relocated without the written approval of the commission.
  4. In case the immediate removal, repair or relocation of any existing work of art shall be deemed necessary by the mayor, he may require the commission to pass on its disposition within an emergency period, which shall be not less than three business days after the receipt of written notice from him. In case of the commission’s failure to act within such period, he may authorize the removal, repair or relocation without such action.

Section 857.

Section 857. Advisory oversight of works of art.

  1. The art commission shall have general advisory oversight over all works of art belonging to the city. It shall advise the agencies having jurisdiction over them as to methods and procedures for their proper maintenance.
  2. The commission shall maintain and make available for inspection a register of (i) works of art in the city’s collection which have been preserved and (ii) works of art in the city’s collection which are available, as determined by either the agency or the commission, for a new use or relocation. Every agency shall maintain a list of works of art installed in or erected upon city property assigned for use by the agency and shall notify the commission whenever a work of art becomes available, in its judgment, for a new use or relocation.

Section 858.

Section 858. Notice of agenda.

A printed calendar of items to be heard, which may be subject to later amendment, shall be made available to the public and forwarded to members of the council at least three days in advance of the meeting.

Section 859.

Section 859. Annual report.

  1. Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

   Acted upon. The term “acted upon” means an action by the commission on a submission in the form of an approval, approval with conditions, or rejection.

   Commented upon. The term “commented upon” means written comments on a submission provided to the sponsoring agency by the commission, a special committee within the commission or the executive director as designated by the commission.

   Review cycle. The term “review cycle” means the time between the deadline for the filing of a submission to the commission and the scheduled date of the next public meeting of the commission.

  1. Not later than August 1, 2018 and no later than August 1 every year thereafter, the commission shall submit to the mayor and the speaker of the council a report with the following data for the previous calendar year:

   i. Total number of submissions received by the commission, including submissions for conceptual, preliminary and final review, and disaggregated by the following:

      (a) Construction, renovation, or restoration of structures, including but not limited to buildings and bridges;

      (b) Construction or reconstruction of parks, open spaces, and streetscapes;

      (c) Distinctive sidewalks;

      (d) Distinctive lighting;

      (e) Newsstands;

      (f) Signage;

      (g) Installation of new works of art;

      (h) Conservation of works of art;

      (i) Removal or relocation of works of art;

      (j) Private structures extending over or upon city-owned land;

   ii. (a) Total number of submissions received by the commission where the review cycle extended into the following year;

      (b) Total number of submissions received by the commission prior to the year being reported that were not acted upon by the commission in the year being reported;

   iii. Number of submissions acted or commented upon, disaggregated by the following:

      (a) Number of submissions approved;

      (b) Number of submissions approved with conditions;

      (c) Number of submissions rejected in whole;

      (d) Number of submissions commented upon;

   iv. (a) Percentage of submissions acted upon in one review cycle;

      (b) Percentage of submissions acted upon in two review cycles;

      (c) Percentage of submissions acted upon in three or more review cycles;

   v. Number of submissions received, disaggregated by city agency and borough;

   vi. Names of commission members during the year being reported;

   vii. Summary of methods or procedure used to determine approval or rejection of submissions;

   viii. Any other information the commission deems relevant.