Tuesday, March 12, 2019

"It doesn’t benefit anyone when there are thousands, if not millions, of works of art that are languishing in storage."

So says Glenn Lowry in this piece by Robin Pogrebin, not realizing that, when it comes to the public trust, "does this benefit anyone?" is not a relevant question.  What matters is ethics:  being really, extremely, very ethical.  And non-repulsive.

Lowry was already in my Deaccessioning Hall of Fame.

He's joined now by Gary Tinterow:

"'If an institution is faced with an existential threat, isn’t it better for the institution to survive with some works of art than no works of art?' countered Gary Tinterow, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, defending the Shelburne Museum in Vermont’s decision to sell $25 million worth of art in 1996."

(Deaccession Police answer:  no, because that would be unethical.)

Anne Pasternak adds that "there is increasing discussion these days about revisiting the strictures of deaccessioning policies. But she acknowledged 'there is a lot of fear around this conversation.'"

And Charles Venable asks:

"What is the balance between almost obsessively art collecting and spending vast amounts of resources on it?  Are we really just addicts collecting objects that our curators bring in generation after generation?"

Or, as I said just a couple days ago, even assuming there is such a thing as the public trust (and there's not) "the point of the trust should not be just to keep accumulating [works of art] but to benefit the public -- and that could be by diversifying the collection, or providing free admission, or upgrading the facilities, or anything that improves their access to and engagement with the collection."

A frightening thought, I know.  You can see why there's a lot of fear around the conversation.