Saturday, July 4, 2009

Deaccessioning Globalized

The Telegraph's Rupert Christiansen writes about the UK's recent battles over deaccessioning. Along with pinpointing two key sides to this issue, he hits on the factor this blog has highlighted as crucial to expansion and understanding of this debate: public property.

Opponents insist that museums and public galleries don’t exist solely to display: they are also centres of scholarly research and repositories charged with the preservation and safe-keeping of anything that is of aesthetic or historical value. On the other hand, most galleries and museums are over-stocked with artifacts of no discernible value.

“Deaccessioning” sounds so enticingly simple at first, but one only has to think about it for two minutes to realise that it represents the thin end of a swiftly thickening wedge. It also raises the question of what ranks as public property.

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