Saturday, November 14, 2009

Public Votes on London Museum's Deaccessioning

Time magazine's Gaelle Faure reports on the University College London's Museum's (UCLM) deaccessioning of parts of its collections (of some 250,000 items in total, only 2% of which are currently on display). What's interesting about this deaccessioning is that the UCLM is giving its public an opportunity to pick which items should be jettisoned. To those wondering why the museum just doesn't keep it all:

To be sure, not everything in a museum's collection is worth keeping, let alone putting on display. [Collections review assistant Subhadra] Das puts it diplomatically: "Sometimes [donors]bring us wonderful things, and sometimes, well, they're not quite for us."

Read more here.

Brodsky's Thoughts at Cardozo Law

It's been pretty quiet on the deaccessioning front. However, I just found out that NY Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (author of the anti-deaccessioning Brodsky bill) visited Cardozo Law School, where he gave his thoughts on deaccessioning. Here's a snippet:

It seems wrong for lawmakers to be making largely artistic choices on the behalf of cultural institutions, but Brodsky argues that the Bill would not enable legislative authorities to make such choices. Instead, he insists that the lawmakers are only requiring public disclosure of a clear mission statement. Within that mission, the museums are largely autonomous. If a work is not within the statement, it may be deaccessioned. If the museum wants to alter its statement so that it no longer encompasses certain works, then it must do so publicly. Collections are held in the public trust, Brodsky argues, and they must be maintained for the public benefit. The impetus driving this Bill is the fear that institutions will sell works to keep the doors open, and institutions will be left with open doors and no paintings.

Reading Brodsky's thoughts gives one hope that he's finally realizing the economic severity faced by museums and art institutions, and if the Brodsky bill restricts the use of funds acquired through deaccessioning to only the purchase of new works, museums will face dire financial situations which will force them to lay-off staff in droves, not to mention lower the academic and aesthetic design and implementation of their planned exhibitions.

You can read about his visit and thoughts here.