Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chicago Weighs in on Deaccessioning Battle

This just in from Art Talk Chicago:

Before we get to the substantive content of the article, I do believe the best--and most common sensical--point of view on deaccessioning comes from one of the readers.

To fake it, to deny reality, is exactly how our country, our museums and my restaurant got into trouble in the first place. But trouble is an opportunity. What you do with the opportunity is art.

The article, by Dawoud Bey, begins:

"Art Institute of Chicago Lays Off 22 Employees," "Met Museum Lays Off 14% of Staff," "Detroit Institute Dismisses 56 Full-time and Seven Part-time Staff," "Spertus Cuts Its Hours to 2 1/2 Days A Month," "High Museum Lays Off 15 More Workers," and on and on it goes, across the country from one region to the next and from one institution to another. These are hard times for everyone and museums are no exception. Along with a growing string of layoffs museums across the country are also being forced to cancel or postpone exhibitions that have been on the drawing board in some cases for years.

Even with that gem of an introduction, Bey still finds the selling of art for administrative purposes to be "ethically and legally" dubious. We know this already, mostly from what Donn Zaretsky calls the "deaccessioning police." If mass layoffs, furloughs, cancelled and postponed exhibitions isn't enough, are we really waiting for the closing of an entire museum or art institution?


Dawoud Bey said...

It's not that I personally find it "dubious" so much as the museum field itself has not yet been conclusive on this issue. What make it dubious is that there is no consensus within the field itself.

I myself am beginning to believe that something is going to have to give.

Dawoud Bey said...

If you are still following the Art Talk Chicago blog, I wonder what you think about the CoAccessioning concept. It seems to offer a balanced solution: the museum keeps the work on view for the public while also reaping the financial benefits of selling a stake in the work.

Here is art consultant Paul Klein's definition of the term: "CoAccession: to divide various ownership rights (like possession, financial interest and/or curatorial interest, etc.) This is new and has not been done yet, but appears to be a legal and a likely possibility."

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento said...


My apologies for such a belated reply. I will indeed reply to your posts and look at the "CoAccessioning" concept.

'til soon,

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