Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guggenheim Director Pro-Deaccessioning

Arts and culture blog, Real Clear Acts, has a very interesting interview between Maxwell Anderson and Guggenheim Director Richard Armstrong, which incidentally, and self-interestedly, supports my position (and that of Donn Zaretsky), that limiting deaccessioning and peppering it with punitive measures will only close and bankrupt arts museums and institutions.

Armstrong contends:
People have to be practical. They have to be pragmatic. They have to stop being righteous. They have to stop being proud of the fact that the museum died, but the collection is intact. That's where we're headed, I'm afraid, in a number of provincial places.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NY's Committee on Art Law Opines on Brodsky Bill

The New York State Assembly is considering a bill, A6959, which will "create rules for deaccessioning of items in a museum'scollection and ... regulate the use of funds from disposed items."

A summary of the bill:
  • Legally defines what have been 'working' terms for museum collectionsand collection management policies.
  • Requires each museum to adopt and publish a binding collection manage-ment policy and mission statement.
  • Each museum shall accession all items in its possession that areconsistent with its mission statement and collection management policy.
  • Items may only be deaccessioned if certain criteria have been met;either that the item is inconsistent with the mission of the museum, theitem has failed to retain its identity, the item is redundant, theitem's preservation and conservations needs are beyond the capacity ofthe museum to provide, or the deaccession of the item refines thecollection per its collection management policy.
  • Any museum disposing of an item must make a 'good faith effort' tosell or transfer the item to another New York State museum.
  • Proceeds from the disposal of deaccessioned items may be used for theacquisition of another item for the museum's collection, and/or for thepreservation and protection of an item in the collection, proceeds maynever be used for customary operating expenses.
  • The Board of Regents will have the authority to enforce the provisionsof this law.
  • Additionally, the board of regents is authorized to study and reportto the Governor whether or not museums should include buildings in theircollection.
A full version of the "Brodsky bill" can be read here. For background information on this bill, read Art Info's "New Bill Seeks to Make Deaccessioning Illegal in New York."

The New York City Bar's Committee on Art Law has written a three-page letter (pdf version) to NY State Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky asking for some clarifications to the bill as well as some suggestions as to its applicability. The letter also asks for two practical clarifications: "What would be the time-line for compliance with the proposed legislation? And what would be the penalty for non-compliance?"

In The News

The Star-Ledger's Kelly Heyboer writes on deaccessioning during tough economic times. Her article, When times get tough, should museums sell their art?: Bloggers on 'deaccessioning,' cites us as well as some other notable voices on deaccessioning, including Donn Zaretsky and NY State Senator Jose Serrano.

The Deaccessioning Blog is also quoted in a recent student note by Kristina Gordon of John Marshall Law School, entitled, "Where Is My Monet? Museums and Donors Lose An Important Incentive for Fractional Giving." (Thanks to Donn for the heads-up.)