Monday, October 05, 2009

On purity

The Deaccessioning Blog points to an article in the Brandeis Hoot on the university's budget problems and sums it up:

"Possible solutions: dipping into its reserve fund, but that would only take the university through 2013. The other alternative: 'the sale of artwork from the Rose Art Museum.' According to The Hoot, even if Brandeis increases enrollment by 400 students (impacting class size and professorial teaching loads) and lays off 35 staff members, Brandeis will still face a budget gap."

This is another illustration of a point I've made here before, which is that it's all well and good to oppose the sale of art -- no one wants to see the art sold -- but anti-deaccessioning absolutists should acknowledge that there are costs to that stance. You can't sell the art and you can't raise admission fees and you can't move to Philadelphia. But something has to give.

So maybe you eliminate the volleyball team (or perhaps all athletic programs).

Or do you drop the philosophy department?

Or do a bunch of people lose their jobs?

Or maybe you close the museum another day each week.

Now it may be that keeping that 220th Eakins you have in storage is more important than any of those things. I'm not arguing here that it's not. I'm merely suggesting that you can't really evaluate whether a sale is justified until you fully come to grips with the costs of not selling.