Let Them Sell Art: Why a Broader Deaccession Policy Today Could Save Museums Tomorrow
40 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2011
Date Written: February 21, 2011
Deaccessioning has become a widely implemented process that museums use to (1) remove a qualified object from the museum’s collection record and (2) dispose of the object through sale, auction, gift, trade, or destruction. Despite wide implementation, there is currently a deaccessioning “crisis” that has instigated public outcry and even legislative reform. The crisis stems from the recent financial crisis, which has deeply affected museums. Museums are being forced to choose between making huge cut backs – even permanent closure – and deaccessioning portions of collections at the risk of lawsuits and condemnation.
Museums should not have to choose. Instead, museums should be able to implement broader deaccession policies that would allow them to deaccession objects based on financial necessity and allow them to apply deaccession proceeds to operating costs.
Keywords: deaccession, museums, fiduciary duty, non-profit, charitable trust, financial crisis, art law
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