I've been meaning to get to the news about the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. It's the usual story -- the museum is deeply in debt, faces millions of dollars in budget cuts, including a new round of layoffs, this time including tenured scientists who will find it "very, very hard" to find new jobs -- but, while it's fine for them to sell off their entire collection of paintings by George Catlin and use the proceeds to "buy [more] artifacts," it would be a mortal sin to use those same proceeds for anything else.
And, on NPR, we hear from Carroll Joynes of the University of Chicago's Cultural Policy Center, who tells us "what make deaccessioning so tricky": one, "[i]t makes donors in the future fear for the security of the things they leave to the organization"; and two, it "seems to many to skirt with a breaking of a trust or a vow to take these things into permanent protection for future generations."
But it never seems to occur to anyone to ask why those same concerns didn't apply to, for example, the sale of the museum's entire collection of Catlin paintings. Did that not make donors in the future fear for the security of the things they leave to the organization? Did that not skirt with a breaking of a trust or a vow to take those things into permanent protection for future generations?
Why don't the reporters ever call them on the inconsistency?