Monday, April 16, 2018

Tell me again about the public trust (Baltimore Museum of Art edition)

The Baltimore Museum of Art is selling works by five artists you might have heard of:

Andy Warhol
Robert Rauschenberg
Franz Kline
Kenneth Noland
Jules Olitski

That's a pretty good list.

I checked with Deaccession Police headquarters and here's what you need to know about these sales:

Relax.  It's no big deal.  Don't be so touchy.  Yawn.

Now, you may have heard that "once an object falls under the aegis of a museum, it is held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations."  But that is a damn lie.  Just think about it:  if these seven works were held in the public trust, then they couldn't be sold.  And clearly they can be sold, so obviously they are not held in the public trust and never were.  Pay attention people.

You may also be wondering if potential future donors to the museum might, upon hearing this news, ask themselves "Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell this tomorrow?"  But that's a ridiculous question.  The answer is, no, they won't ask themselves that.  Why would they ask themselves that?  What is wrong with you?  Don't you know anything about the way ethics work?

So, just to review:

A sale of seven works -- by Warhol, Rauschenberg, Kline, Noland, and Olitski -- to who knows where:  totally fine, no big deal, just shut up.

A sale of one work by a museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to another museum in Los Angeles, California:  a tragedy.  Months and months of protests and non-stop press coverage and lawsuits and anguish and tears.

Yeah, that all makes sense.