Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Iowa

Tyler Green has more today on the brewing deaccessioning controversy at the University of Iowa. (He refers to the current proposal to find out what the painting at issue might be worth as an "assessment/possible forced deaccessioning.")

Among other things, Tyler is concerned about conflicts of interest in that the wife of the regent "who first called for the university to explore a forced deaccessioning" is on the board of the Des Moines Art Center: "Gartner's position with the university's board of regents and his wife's at DMAC raises serious questions about whether Gartner is trying to leverage a forced deaccessioning of the UIMA Pollock to a museum in which his wife is active."

Look, I know I seem to lack the deaccessioning-outrage gene, but my first reaction to hearing about a possible deal with the DMAC is, "What's so bad about that?" If $100 million or so could go to the University to help it deal with its flood-related problems, with the Pollock moving a mere 115 miles down the road (plus a promise to "allow UIMA to show the painting occasionally"), how exactly does that amount to a catastrophe? Even if you buy the argument that "this collection belongs to the people of Iowa," a deal between two Iowa institutions wouldn't seem to be a problem. Or does this collection really belong to the people of Iowa City? Hard to keep track sometimes.