Friday, July 11, 2008

The Upside of Deaccessioning

From Carol Vogel's Inside Art column in today's New York Times:

"In November 2006 the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo caused an uproar when it announced its intention to sell dozens of older works in a series of auctions to raise money. Ultimately 207 works were sold at Sotheby’s for a total of $67.2 million. Some patrons complained that the museum was selling off its history, but Albright-Knox officials countered that it wanted to boost its endowment so that it could further its central mission, collecting and exhibiting contemporary art. The institution is now doing just that. This week it said it had acquired 71 works by 15 artists in a part-gift, part-purchase arrangement from the contemporary art collection formed by Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, the Italian industrialist. ... 'This helps fill several historic gaps,' said Louis Grachos, the Albright-Knox’s director. Until now the institution had no pieces by the Conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth, for example. The acquisition includes several of his pieces. While the museum had commissioned a wall drawing by Sol LeWitt, it had none of his early works; now it has a wall drawing from 1969."