Association of Art Museum Directors: Letter on Deaccessioning
ART MUSEUMS AND THE PRACTICE OF DEACCESSIONING
Here's a brief outline, in italics, of the Association of Art Museum Directors' position on deaccessioning. To read their policy on Deaccessioning visit this link (pdf letter).
Deaccessioning is practiced to refine and enhance the quality, use, and character of an institution’s holdings. There are two fundamental principles that are always observed whenever an AAMD member art museum deaccessions an object:
The decision to deaccession is made solely to improve the quality, scope, and appropriateness of the collection, and to support the mission and long-term goals of the museum;
Proceeds from a deaccessioned work are used only to acquire other works of art—the proceeds are never used as operating funds, to build a general endowment, or for any other expenses.
The New York Board of Regents Rules
New rules were approved on May 17, 2011, and went into effect on June 8, 2011. The rules are meant to provide museums with the discretion to refine their collections over time, while at the same time ensuring that museums’ collections are preserved for the public.
The new rules continue to make clear that proceeds from deaccessioning may never be used to pay operating expenses, and may only be used for “the acquisition of collections, or the preservation, conservation or direct care of collections.” However, the rules expand the circumstances in which deaccession can take place:
1. the item is inconsistent with the mission of the institution as set forth in its mission statement;
2. the item has failed to retain its identity;
3. the item is redundant;
4. the item’s preservation and conservation needs are beyond the capacity of the institution to provide;
5. the item is deaccessioned to accomplish refinement of collections;
6. it has been established that the item is inauthentic;
7. the institution is repatriating the item or returning the item to its rightful owner;
8. the institution is returning the item to the donor, or the donor’s heirs or assigns, to fulfill donor restrictions relating to the item which the institution is no longer able to meet;
9. the item presents a hazard to people or other collection items; and/or
10. the item has been lost or stolen and has not been recovered.
In another significant change, the new rules require that each institution shall include in its annual report to the State Education Commissioner a list of all deaccessions in the prior year.