I've also been meaning to get to this story, which in some ways is similar to the Detroit story I mentioned yesterday. A Washington State Senator has introduced a bill to "auction off works from the state art collection every two years," with "a goal of raising a minimum of $5 million each time." Sixty percent of the sales proceeds would be used "to help the state's lowest-income undergraduate students pursue degrees, refine skills, and retrain for new careers" (boo!) and 40 percent would be used "to conserve, repair and acquire art" (yay!). The Senator says "the State Need Grant program is terribly underfunded. There were so many students who were turned away this year, who could not get a dime."
As with Detroit, we're not talking about sales by museums ("The state art collection is made up of artwork acquired through Washington's Art in Public Places program. The art is located at state agencies, public schools, colleges and universities and is bought through the state's capital construction budget"). This is not work held in the "public trust" but directly by the public. The question this Senator is raising is whether the public would prefer to use a portion of those assets (about $1.5 million a year) to help poor kids go to college. What the Deaccession Police want to do -- what they always want to do -- is make the very question off limits. Selling any amount of art to fund scholarships is always repulsive, Stalinesque, beyond the pale. They want a conversation stopper in favor of their preferred policy outcome.