Friday, December 25, 2009

Claremont Museum to Close on December 27

No mention of deaccessioning, but worth mentioning.

Bowing to continued financial pressure and a lack of donations, the Claremont Museum of Art said today that it would close its doors to the public on Dec. 27, 2009, and move its permanent collection to a warehouse.

More from the LA Times.

Monday, December 21, 2009

How Big a Part Does Deaccessioning Play in New Acquisitions?

LACMA's Allison Agsten writes in LACMA's blog about how the museum acquires new artworks. She mentions deaccessioning, and interestingly, it seems that only a small fraction of new works comes via this practice.

A smaller slice of the funds [for new acquisitions] comes from deaccessioning, the practice of selling lesser works in the collection to buy greater works, and also from the interest generated by the museum’s endowment that is restricted for art purchase.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Historical Society Deaccessions to Survive

Just minutes from writing about the RISD fiasco (below), this comes in from a faithful reader.

From Sign On San Diego:

The Villa Montezuma, with its stained-glass images of Shakespeare and the Greek poet Sappho, is San Diego’s most storied and elaborate Victorian, built just east of downtown during the boom of the 1880s. Operated as a museum since the 1970s by the San Diego Historical Society, the idea was to celebrate San Diego’s past.

The historical society has struggled with its budget during the recession, cutting staff and closing the Villa to the public in 2007.

And to substantiate my "economic times will force us to face reality" argument, this from Maria Bolivar, a Mesa College professor and member of the Villa friends board and a Sherman Heights activist, "tough economic times are forcing nonprofit cultural organizations to dispose of some of their holdings to survive."

Did Deaccessioning Thoughts Lead to RISD Director's Ouster?

The LA Times' Mike Boehm thinks the recent RISD debacle concerning RISD's museum director, Hope Alswang, may have something to do with the dreaded "d" word.

"[A]t play at RISD (as at Brandeis University) were college-museum politics: the idea that it might be necessary to liquidate works held by the art museum, for the sake of shoring up the parent institution’s finances. The Globe reports that two faculty members at RISD proposed such a sale and that the museum’s director was openly unhappy when the college’s president, John Maeda, didn’t summarily reject it. Maeda said it should be discussed even though he was personally opposed to selling any art. Just how much deaccessioning and fallout from construction expenditures played into the apparent cashiering of RISD's museum director, Hope Alswang, is unclear, because neither she nor Maeda has made any substantive public statements."

Is this a sign of the true financial health of art institutions, or how disengaged some museum executives are with the true status of the economy, its future, and its current and future repercussions?

Boehm also thinks this is related to last year's Art Center uproar over architectural expenditures.

Former Director of Royal Academy and Milwaukee Art Museum Disagrees with AAMD

In an interview with David Gordon, former director of the Royal Academy of Arts, in London, and the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM), Artinfo asked Gordon on his position vis-a-vis deaccessioning. Here is his reply:

The position of the American Association of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors is that it is always wrong unless the funds are used to buy new art. I disagree. Suppose you have a museum in a city that has fallen on hard times and its base of support has diminished but it still has a great collection. You wish to make sure that the museum stays open six days a week, that its artworks are being conserved and that it’s able to put on adventurous exhibitions, but you don’t have the money to do any of this. As you cut costs, you are in particular danger of weakening the conservation program, so that the fundamental function of the museum, as a guardian of works, is jeopardized. In that circumstance, it seems wrong to say, "Well, you can’t do anything that involves the art."


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Powerful International Museum Council Takes Strong Anti-Deaccessioning Stance

Those strongly against the deaccessioning of artworks for any purpose other than to improve the quality or composition of a museum's collection may be interested in Mexico's recent resolution against the practice of museum deaccessioning.

CIMAM (International Committee of ICOM for Museums and Collections of Modern Art) adopted a resolution on November 10, 2009, stating strict guidelines for deaccessioning. This resolution defines the purposes of an art museum; the purpose of a museum's collection; deaccessioning; the purposes of deaccessioning; criteria for deaccessioning; who is responsible for the preservation and conservation of its collection; legal issues and donor intent; modes and methods of disposal; and its implementation and enforcement.

CIMAM boasts a strong board of directors, including Kasper König (Museum Ludwig), Christine Van Assche (Centre Pompidou), Sheena Wagstaff (Tate Modern), as well as Neal Benezra (SF MoMA).

You may read the resolution via PDF format here.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

British Museums Loosen Deaccessioning Grip

Starting in January, Britain's strict law against museums deaccessioning items in their collections is going to become a little less absolute. Until now, it was against the law for any British national museum to let go of any object in its collection, no matter what the reason. But now, new legislation will allow the institutions to return to their rightful owners items looted by Nazis.

A step in the right direction. More from Artinfo here.