Since the Deaccession Police all seem to be on vacation or busy at the art fairs, I thought I would do them a favor and make the case against the Baltimore Museum's planned deaccessioning:
The museum's decision fails to consider the essential point of museum collections: 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. And the public’s trust is the coin of the realm for museums. It's also common sense. You don't cut out the heart to cure the patient. The director seems not to have understood his broader responsibility to care for all of the museum's assets. Instead of selling these works, the museum should have embraced furious fundraising. The sale also sends a terrible message to potential donors: why wouldn't somebody say, "Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell this tomorrow?"
Also keep in mind that the museum's permanent collection belongs to all of us. The public has paid for these works through the tax deductions given to private donors. And those donors bestow such works on the public expecting them to be valued for their aesthetic, not financial worth. If a museum doesn’t regard a particular gift as worthy of display or study, it shouldn’t accept the gift in the first place.
There you have it. Where do I pick up my badge?