Monday, May 31, 2010

Rose News

The other story I didn't get to before the long weekend was Geoff Edgers's report in the Boston Globe that Brandeis "plans to hire Sotheby’s auction house as a broker to raise money by loaning out artworks."

As Edgers points out, this is nothing new:

"In the 1990s, the Whitney Museum of American Art was paid $4.4 million to provide works to the San Jose Museum of Art, and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts signed a 20-year deal to provide exhibitions to an MFA branch in Nagoya, Japan, for $50 million. More recently, the High Museum in Atlanta paid $7 million to borrow works from the Louvre in Paris for a three-year period ending in 2009."

(There was also this: "From 1993 to 1995, Glanton took the Barnes Collection on tour .... The tour was highly profitable; it earned Glanton accolades and helped defray the costs of an expensive renovation of the Barnes buildings.")

My immediate reaction to the story was to nominate Peter Marzio of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston to my Museum Directors Hall of Fame. Edgers quotes him as saying "They" -- i.e., the anti-deaccession crowd, the hand-wringers, the purity police -- "will be against anything except the status quo." (For example.) He makes the crazy suggestion that "Brandeis has to set its priorities and decide how the museum fits into the long-term purpose of the university" and adds: "They would be fools not to explore this."

I see this evening that Judith Dobrzynski had a similar reaction. She says that the views attributed to Marzio are "the most interesting part of the story," that he's "a breath of fresh air, in a community that doesn't tend to welcome new ideas that go against the 'museum culture.'"