Author Archive

“The Museum approaches deaccessioning with the same degree of strategy and deliberation as we apply to acquisitions.”

Met director Max Hollein has a very good piece at the museum's website defending the position they've taken on deaccessioning, and also an interesting interview with Brian Boucher at artnet.

Some highlights from the latter:

He makes the point that museums sell work all the time and no one bats an eye: "I think that sometimes even people from the field on purpose neglect the... | Read More

“Judge Tucker’s 27-page ruling upheld their motions, saying the reporting was factually true and covered by the fair-report privilege, which protects news outlets that report accurately on public records and proceedings, like court cases or municipal meetings.”

Concord Monitor: Judge dismisses defamation claims surrounding coverage of suspected art forgery case.

Background here.

... | Read More

Charles Gaines on Deaccessioning

From an interview at artnet:

"I get into arguments with my progressive friends about this: I feel that deaccessioning for the purposes of diversification is always legitimate. History is something that I value greatly. But one of the things that’s part of the history of art is that its discourse was racist, and that should be acknowledged. Deaccessioning is one way to do that. It’s... | Read More

“I don’t know how many billionaires sit on the board of trustees, arguably the most prestigious and desirable in Manhattan, but I am comfortable going with the adjective ‘plenty.’ Time to start writing lots more checks, or time to step aside.” (UPDATED)

Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Christopher Knight weighs in on the "bombshell that New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art dropped into the news cycle the other day." "I don’t know about you," he writes, "but I am sick to death of reading about art museums and their scandalous schemes for stress-free fundraising by throwing principles to the winds and selling art from their collections to... | Read More

A rumble of dissent

The Art Newspaper article I linked to in the update to the last post ("Rumbles of dissent") includes the following quote from Martin Gammon, author of Deaccessioning and its Discontents: A Critical History:

"The Met, like every other major encyclopeadic museum, deaccessions all the time, and there is nothing wrong in principle with extending that practice to support the direct care of... | Read More

“As Museums Push to Sell Art, Competing Ideas About Deaccessioning Are Playing Out in Public”

In ARTnews, Andrew Russeth has a long, balanced piece on the state of the deaccessioning debate, with lots of good quotes, including:

Baltimore's Christopher Bedford: "What we are doing is not for everyone, including the Christopher Knights of the world. There is a pressing, pressing, pressing need for change within institutions in this country, because we have been failing in our... | Read More

More Met

My friend Mark Gold, an experienced observer (and occasional participant) in the Deaccessioning Wars, emails regarding the news about the Met:

“It really feels like the dam has broken.

“To me, the most important sentence was the first line of the NYTimes article:  Facing a potential shortfall of $150 million because of the pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has begun... | Read More

“Like many institutions, the Met is looking to take advantage of a two-year window in which the Association of Art Museum Directors … has relaxed the guidelines that govern how proceeds from sales of works in a collection (known as deaccessioning) can be directed.” (UPDATED 3X)

The Met floats a trial balloon: Facing Deficit, Met Considers Selling Art to Help Pay the Bills. It's considering. It has "begun conversations." It would be "inappropriate" not to consider it, "when we’re still in this foggy situation." They are "engaging in [an] evaluation process" that is "the more conscientious course of action." "Every museum in the U.S. is having these... | Read More

“Last night I watched ‘The Art of the Steal,’ a 2009 documentary about the Barnes Foundation. It’s an Impressionist museum that moved from Merion, Pennsylvania about 5 miles to central Philadelphia. According to the movie, the Barnes was pillaged.”

Kriston Capps watches The Art of the Steal and concludes: "THIS DOC IS INSANE."

I could have told him that a decade ago.

As he says, the bottom line is the Barnes remains:


—Not ruined

—With all the paintings exactly the way weirdo Barnes hung them

—In a replica of the original rooms

—Only moved 5 miles

—Where millions of people... | Read More

“Among the latest cases are a sculpture that used cheese as a medium to mock former President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, a mural called a symbol of San Francisco’s LGBTQ community, and a work highlighting Vermont’s role in the Underground Railroad.”

Bloomberg Law: "Between October—when the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a $6.75 million judgment against a developer for violating VARA—and December 2020, artists filed at least a half dozen VARA claims, four of them over the destruction or removal of public art."

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento says: "As the cliche goes, careful what you wish for. More law only means more regulation and,... | Read More

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