Colleges will do anything to stand out against the competition:
Margaret Ritten, 19 years old, wanted to go to a small liberal arts college. She was accepted at several good schools across the country. Her choice? A college that would let her rent a priceless work of art to hang in her dorm.
“I was looking at Bard College, Occidental and Oberlin,” says Ms. Ritten, now a freshman. “But I came to Oberlin because I was so impressed with a school that trusted students to handle Picassos and Matisses.”
As part of Oberlin College’s Art Rental program, which began in 1940, students line up for hours each semester in front of the college’s Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio, for the chance to borrow a work of art for $5. The collection includes works by Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali and Roy Lichtenstein. No piece has ever been lost or damaged, says Debra Chermonte, Oberlin’s dean of admissions. The program is “held up at every turn” by the admissions office. “It shows that we take the students seriously,” she says. […]
At Oberlin, Ms. Ritten arrived 22 hours before doors opened and was the second person in line for the fall semester Art Rental. At 8 a.m., the students were ushered in five at a time and surrounded by security guards. Ms. Ritten nabbed two works: “Sketch of a Man” by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti and a series of posters by American conceptual artist Jenny Holzer.
Another student, Zachary Bluford, 20, of Orinda, Calif., scored the Pablo Picasso woodcut “Still Life.”
Ms. Ritten had wanted the drawing “Visage” by Henri Matisse, but it was taken by the first person in line.