Tuesday, December 8, 2009

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.

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