Art Rental Spring 2017

Started in 1940 by Ellen H. Johnson, Art Rental is one of Oberlin College's most unique traditions. Art Rental allows students to take home two works of art (for the price of $5 each), and live with them for the semester.

As Johnson said, "The best way to learn to like something is to live with it."

5:00 PM

This year, students began putting their names on the sign-up list as early as 9 a.m. By 5 p.m., more than 100 students were signed up to receive art the next morning.

5:15 PM

Students on the list were expected to be present at several check-ins: 5 p.m., 9 p.m., 1 a.m., and 7 a.m. If they missed two, they would be taken off the list. Some students chose to stay in the art building (which is equipped with an excellent heating system) in between checks.

7:30 PM

Students who stayed inside the art building watched movies, napped, and socialized as they waited for the next check-in.

8:00 pm

As night fell, the temperature dropped, and the courtyard of the museum emptied until the next check-in.

9:00 PM

At the second check-in of the night, students huddled together as they waited for their names to be called.

11:00 PM

Though fewer students were present at the 1:00 a.m. check-in than earlier in the night, many returned to ensure they kept their spots in line.

1:00 AM

Aside from the obvious collaboration of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, art rental is entirely student-run. This year, fourth-year Leah Newman (below) volunteered to run art rental, creating the sign-up list and taking roll at each check-in.


As dawn broke, students began to arrive for the mandatory 7am check-in.

7:00 am

Students then began to line up in the courtyard and the hallways of the art building.


The hallways proved a tight squeeze, but students found ways to get comfortable, using blankets and scarves as pillows and blankets as they waited to enter the museum.

7:30 am

Some students even brought breakfast, snacking on doughnuts and sipping coffee as they waited.

7:45 am

At 8:00 a.m. sharp, the first five students in line were ushered into the museum.

8:25 am

Shortly after Art Rental began, students emerged carrying works by artists including Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, and more.

9:00 am

Jessica, a fourth-year (above), chose works by Alexander Calder and Roy Lichtenstein.

9:15 am

Gracie, another fourth-year, also walked off with a Lichtenstein print, which she'd had her eye on since her sophomore year at Oberlin.

10:00 am

Students carried their art out to the Lorain Street exit, waiting to load the works into their friends' cars.

11:00 am

Here's to another successful year of Art Rental! See you next semester!

For more information on the Allen Memorial Art Museum and Art Rental, visit


Justine Goode

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