NPR has a story on the recent deaccessioning at the Philadelphia History Museum. The New York Times ran a similar story last month.
I always love this move: "Russell Lewis, chief historian at the Chicago History Museum, says his institution tries to avoid deaccessioning because of the message it can send to potential donors. ... 'Why wouldn't somebody say, Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell this tomorrow?'"
But, on the strict anti-deaccessionist view, what guarantee does anyone ever have that work they donated won't be sold? Museums sell work constantly, and use the proceeds to buy more art. Why wouldn't somebody say, "Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell this tomorrow?"
Somehow sales to buy more art, no matter how routine, don't seem to discourage future donations. Sales for any other reason, however, send potential donors running for the hills.
Thanks to Mark Gold for the pointer.