Thursday, September 13, 2012

"What responsibility ... do institutions have to hold on to donated works and display them?"

The Evansville Museum's newly-discovered Picasso makes it to the pages of the New York Times.  Patricia Cohen had a story on the front page of today's Arts section.

Notably absent from the story is the usual outrageous outrage -- Lee Rosenbaum hasn't called for the trustees to be taken away in handcuffs, Ford Bell is not on the scene reminding us that the work is held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations, nobody's warning that, if we allow this sale to happen, future donations will dry up because potential donors will worry that, if the value of the works they donate goes up, museums will get rid of them rather than pay the costs of insurance.

I've been assuming the reason for the silence is that the museum (cleverly) has not said what they plan to do with the proceeds (if they spend it on more art, then the Deaccession Police will be perfectly pleased with the sale; if they spend it on anything else, then you can cue up the outrageous outrage -- how dare they sell off this important part of the public trust?!).  But maybe there's an alternative explanation I'm not seeing.