Monday, March 09, 2009

"I would never have been able to allow the institution to close in order to take the position of not selling the paintings"

Judd Tully has a piece in the March Art+Auction on the "daunting array of problems, from budget gaps and staff cuts to shrinking corporate and individual patronage and flagging capital campaigns," museums are currently facing.

Naturally, the question of deaccessioning comes up, but a number of AAMD members are on hand to defend their prissy fatwa. The Detroit Institute's Graham Beal repeats his criticisms of the National Academy: "they're just perpetuating a failed institution." (Presumably he would like them to just get on with failing already, so that they then have to relinquish all of their works, not just two.) Dan Monroe of the Peabody Essex Museum says "donors are not going to give works of art to museums with the notion in mind that next year they may turn around and sell them to pay their directors’ salaries." (Presumably, though, they have no objection to selling them to pay for other work.) And SFMOMA's Neal Benezra says "there have got to be other things that can be done first." (But what happens when you try those things and they don't work? Benezra's comment makes an interesting bookend to Bell's: you can't possibly think about deaccessioning until you've tried everything else, but by that point all you're doing is "perpetuating a failed institution," so you can't deaccession then either. Funny how that works.)