Both the New York Times and the Washington Post pick up the story of the Hirshhorn's deaccessioning of three Eakins portraits. The stories emphasize that the decision came after "a two-year assessment"; that the museum has 217 other works by Eakins; and that the three works have not been exhibited at the Hirshhorn since 1977.
That's all well and good, but it's funny how we never hear those sorts of things when work is being sold for reasons other than the purchase of more work. Then, all you hear is how those works are held in the public trust for the benefit of future generations etc. etc.
What if, instead of saying:
"After a two-year assessment, we've decided to sell three of our 220 works by such-and-such artist, which by the way haven't been exhibited in more than three decades, and we're going to use the proceeds to buy more art,"
a museum said:
"After a two-year assessment, we've decided to sell three of our 220 works by such-and-such artist, which by the way haven't been exhibited in more than three decades, and we're going to use the proceeds to . . . fund an outreach program for low-income kids in town . . . or bring more traveling exhibitions to the museum next year . . . or save a bunch of jobs that might otherwise be lost . . ." or any number of other things that -- depending on the thing and depending on the art -- might be just as valuable as acquiring more art.
Why do the reasons for selling suddenly not count when the proceeds are being used for things other than buying more art? Why can't the same kind of analysis be done in both contexts?