Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Business Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2018

Sales and Use Tax Annotations

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Annotation 610.0500


610.0500 Exhibits as a Work of Art. A firm contracts to create an exhibit as part of a permanent collection of a museum. The exhibit consists of life-size, three-dimensional scenes. A review of the photographs and description of the proposed work indicates it contains elements of both a construction contract and the production of works of art.

The scenes themselves are best described as assemblages, the artistic components of which are works of art. On the other hand, if the walls, ceiling, or floor itself was a work of art such as a wall painted with a mural or fresco, it would be viewed as a work of art rather than part of a construction contract. Also, walls, partitions, or ceilings which are in the nature of shadow boxes to enclose the assemblage and set aside from other exhibits, or which are in the nature of backdrops, such as a stage set to establish a background or setting, would be considered part of the work of art. Otherwise, the rules of Regulation 1521 concerning materials and fixtures would apply to the walls, floors, and ceilings which become improvements to real property.

Items not part of the integral artistic components, such as electrical wiring, are not part of the work of art even though supportive of the assemblage (e.g., functioning as illumination). On the other hand, a period lighting fixture or lamp, which is an integral part of the artistic assemblage, is a part of the work of art.

Generally, shelving, display cabinets, and seating which are supportive of the work of art are part of the construction contract or are sales of tangible personal property. On the other hand, such items which are part of the three-dimensional scenes would qualify as part of the work of art.

In summary, some judgment must be exercised in determining what is integral to the work of art. Generally, the shell of the museum is part of the construction contract while the components of the assemblage (work of art) are works of art. Items supportive of the assemblages such as wiring, lighting, ducting, etc., are improvements to realty and part of the construction contract. 10/31/95.