One further thought prompted by the story earlier this week about deaccessioning at the Philadelphia History Museum. As I mentioned, one museum director is quoted as making the usual slippery slope argument against deaccessioning: "if we go down this road, we end up paying our gas, electric and water bills — classic operations costs — with deaccessioning proceeds."
Can I make a suggestion?
If you're worried about paying your gas, electric, and water bills with deaccessioning proceeds ... don't pay your gas, electric, and water bills with deaccessioning proceeds. That is, we can easily have a rule that says you can use deaccessioning proceeds to pay for educational programs or building renovations or major capital projects or any number of things, but at the same time say (if we want to) that you can't use deaccessioning proceeds to pay for gas, electric, and water bills.
Problem solved. The slope really isn't that slippery. You just have to plow the roads now and then.
In fact, that's pretty close to the situation we have now. Works can be (and quite frequently are) sold for one purpose -- to raise acquisition funds -- and no one goes around worrying that, if we go down this road, we'll end up paying our gas, electric and water bills with deaccessioning proceeds. People understand that you don't have to slide down the slope. You can just stop. There's no reason we couldn't add other acceptable reasons (like, for example, keeping from having to close your doors) to the list.