Monday, October 24, 2011

Tell me again about the public trust (a continuing series)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is deaccessioning nine works from its collection of American art, five of which will be sold through Christie's next month.

Fortunately for the museum, those nine works just happened to be works that were somehow not held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations, even though they had fallen under the aegis of a museum.  Whew.  What a lucky break.

Similarly, their sale will not cause potential donors to say, Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell this tomorrow?  This is not the kind of sale that will make anyone say that.  Other sales will make people say that.  But not this one.  This one clearly will not have that effect.  Don't be so touchy.