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Abandoned, Unclaimed, and Found in Collection (FIC) Artworks

Starting with its founding in 1869, Purdue University has actively collected artworks through commissions, donations, purchases, and bequests to help with its educational mission. Approximately fifty years ago, Purdue University Galleries was formally established to grow, document, and care for this collection. To date, there are over 6,200 objects in the Purdue University art collection many of which have incomplete records. It is the goal of Purdue University Galleries staff to catalogue the collection including establishing title and filling gaps in the provenance. To this end, we have established this website to gather institutional memory of the pieces as well as expertise on the works from the broader Purdue University community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni. As works are identified and documented, they will be added to this space. If you know anything about the works featured, email and a staff member will be in touch. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

One aspect of cataloguing the collection includes the establishment of legal title. In several cases, paperwork is missing or incomplete. Purdue University Galleries has created this webpage to help identify such works in the collection.

CatalogIt Hub

What is Abandoned, Unclaimed, and Found in Collection Artwork?

Abandoned artworks are classified as objects left in the care of the collection, either for loan or as potential gifts, and Purdue University Galleries has been unable to contact the owner for more than seven years. Unclaimed objects are artworks scheduled to be picked up or returned and have not been despite good faith attempts and Purdue Galleries is unable to contact the owner for seven years. Artworks which have no known donor or lender are classified as Found in the Collection. Objects that are held in the collection and cannot be returned to donors and lenders will undergo a process to establish title as belonging to Purdue Universities Galleries.


Abandoned objects must be held in the collection at least seven years without contact between Purdue Galleries and the lender. Before assuming that an object in the collection has been abandoned, Purdue Galleries will make concerted efforts to contact the lender. Note, attempts to contact the lender do not effect this seven-year period.

If unsuccessful, Purdue Galleries can establish title through the publication of a digital or print notice at least once a week for two consecutive weeks in the largest regional newspaper where the donor lives or had lived. If there are no claims after ninety (90) days, title is automatically transferred to Purdue University Galleries following Indiana Code § 32-34-5-12 (2021) Acquiring title for Property on Permanent Loan or Loaned for Specified Time and Indiana Code § 32-34-5-13 (2021) Acquiring Title for Undocumented Property.

Artworks which have been found in the collection (FIC) are subject to Indiana Code § 32-34-5-16 (2021) Presumption of Gift to Museum. This law allows title to be established by a museum under the following conditions:

  1. the artwork is in the possession of the museum;
  2. is from an unknown source;
  3. can be assumed to have been intended as a gift or donation to the museum.

For works with no known owner, notice will be published in the Lafayette Journal & Courier.


Abandoned – works which were loaned or stored at Purdue University Galleries that have not been collected and attempts to contact owner have been unsuccessful

FIC (Found In Collection) – works located during collection inventory and currently do not match any records

Provenance – the history of ownership of an artwork

Title – the official notice of ownership of an artwork


Dr. George A. Hawkins was born in Denver, Colorado on December 11, 1907. He completed his Bachelor of Science at Purdue University in 1930, his Masters in 1932, and his doctorate in 1935 in mechanical engineering. He joined the faculty of the department of Applied Mechanics in 1930 eventually becoming the Dean of Engineering in 1961. From 1967 until 1971 he served as the Vice President for Academic Affairs. In his spare time, Dr. Hawkins became a known authority of Hopi katsina figures and carved numerous dolls which are now in collections such as the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. He passed away in West Lafayette on April 6, 1978, and his wife Alma Hawkins passed away January 29, 1993.

These two katsina figures were found during collection inventory. They do not have any supporting documentation in the Purdue University Galleries files and there are no corresponding works in the collection database.