Friday, January 09, 2009

Trust Yourself points to a piece by the director of the Addison Gallery arguing against the National Academy deaccessioning. It's of the "held-in-trust" genre ("When trustees and curators make the decision to accept a work of art in a museum’s collection, they agree to hold it in trust for the education and enjoyment of the general public. ... In selling art to pay the bills, a museum betrays the public trust"), which we've seen several times before.

Among the questions I've been asking in response to this form of argument is: how does the very same art magically become not held in trust when a museum decides to sell it to buy more art?

Newcurator makes a different, but related, point. Noting that the piece argues that the National Academy should have sold its Fifth Avenue building rather than two paintings, he says: "So, because there are bigger museums nearby, the National Academy Gallery should sell the building that was donated to them by the Huntington family in 1939?"

Or, put another way: why isn't the building "held in trust" for the public too?