Saturday, November 03, 2018

Tell me again about the public trust (one museum's 19th century photo sale seems to be the Met's gain edition)

The Times reports on a sale of a group of Carleton Watkins photographs by the Hispanic Society in New York to an "unknown donor" who is giving them to the Met.

It's presented as a good news story -- and it is ("They stay in New York but also they go somewhere where they'll be cared for and appreciated") -- but, strangely, there's no mention of how the sales proceeds will be used.  We do hear that "the sale garnered more than $1 million for the Hispanic Society, whose doors are now closed because the museum is in the midst of a two-year renovation expected to cost about $15 million" -- so perhaps the implication is that the money will go towards those costs.  But we don't know for sure.  Don't we need to know the answer to that question before we can decide whether this sale really is the good news it's being portrayed as or, alternatively, a repulsive, unethical, Stalinesque betrayal of the public trust?  (I don't, but I would think the Deaccession Police do.  Sanctions may be in order.)