Percent for Art
In 1979, the State of New Hampshire strengthened its commitment to community access to the arts by creating the Percent for Art program (RSA 19-A:9 and RSA 19-A:10). Percent for Art authorizes one half of one percent of the capital budget appropriation for new or significantly renovated State buildings be set aside for the acquisition or commissioning of artwork.
The Percent for Art Program is dedicated to aesthetically enriching our state funded buildings, enhancing the effectiveness of the services provided in state buildings through the art that is displayed there, and making the arts more available to our citizens.
Each project has a Site Selection Committee made up of planners, architects, state employees, art professionals and private citizens who collaborate in the selection, commissioning or purchasing of works of art by artists and craftspeople. The themes developed by the committee and the artwork selected often help the agencies housed within the building to better meet their mission.
Spotlight on the New Hampshire State Archives, Concord
The Division of Archives & Records Management has two principal functions. One function is to assist state agencies with the efficient and proper management of their records, and in conjunction with that service, provide storage space for their less active records. The second function is to preserve documentation of the history of New Hampshire state government institutions, and work to make them available to the public in as efficient a manner as possible. The Division houses several million archival items and more than 90,000 cubic feet of current public records, with genealogical records dating back to 1640.
Marquis de Lafayette Book of History
Bronze and granite sculpture
A Request for Proposals went out for artwork for the newly renovated Archives building in 2018; artist Emily Boucher of Dover, NH was chosen by the site selection committee to create a bronze sculpture for the grounds. In her proposal she said:
“Through this sculpture I want to capture the feeling not only of Lafayette’s having come to New Hampshire in the 1800s and touched the stone pillars in front of the State House, but also to incorporate the sense of place the archive has as an institution in which we can directly engage with history.
The main idea behind this piece is to show the open book of history in which Lafayette has placed his hands. The book is open to a page near the beginning, symbolizing Lafayette’s involvement in the early stages of American history. In his left hand, resting on the page, he is holding a wreath of laurels. The laurel is not only an ancient symbol for fame, honor and victory but also represents New Hampshire as one of the main elements of our state flag. It also gives voice to the time that Lafayette spent here and the impression that his presence made. …
The right page of the book quotes Lafayette’s 1783 letter to the French statesman Charles Gravier, Count of Vergennes, ‘My grand affair appears settled. For America is certain of her independence. Humanity has gained her cause. And liberty will never be without a place of refuge.’ Lafayette’s right hand points to the word refuge, giving the sense that the archive itself is a place of refuge for our shared history.”
The granite posts that were originally at the State House for Lafayette’s 1825 visit are the posts now flanking the entrance of State Archives (whose façade is meant to resemble that of the original NH State House). Boucher’s sculpture was installed alongside them this spring.
To learn about the artwork created through the Percent for Art program for the New Hampshire State Archives & Division of Vital Records’ 2008 renovation, click here.
Photos: Division of Archives & Records Management exterior featuring bronze sculpture; Emily Boucher with her artwork on installation day, April 2020