Two wonderful museums recently announced plans to sell major works of art. In one case, some 40 paintings, American masterpieces among them, will be sold at auction. In another, more than 400 photographs will also be sold. The former case has prompted a nationwide outcry, the latter…effectively nothing. The differences and similarities between the two underscore the aspirational rules that govern what is known as “deaccessioning,” but also remind us that principles and the goals they are meant to reach are not always the same thing.
Topics: Berkshire Museum, Deaccessioning, MoMA, Pittsfield, General Electric, Housatonic, Lake Onota, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Norman Rockwell, Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, Alexander Calder, Zenas Crane, Williamstown, Lenox, North Adams, Mass MoCA, Lee Rosenbaum, Felix Salmon, Association of Art Museum Directors, American Alliance of Museums, AAM, AAMD, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Delaware Museum of Art, Waconah Park
Readers will no doubt be puzzled by the news this week that the Detroit Institute of Arts—fresh off of the Grand Bargain, in which an infusion of donations and fundraising led to the transfer of the collection’s ownership back to the museum and off the table in the context of the Detroit Bankruptcy—is moving ahead with plans to deaccession works of art in its collection, a Van Gogh in particular. There are a number of things going on in this latest development, which need to be distinguished.
Topics: Graham Beal, Deaccession, Delaware Museum of Art, American Alliance of Museums, Donn Zaretzky, Deaccessioning, AAM, Van Gogh, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, Association of Art Museum Directors, Museums, Detroit Bankruptcy, AAMD, grand bargain