In an interview with Sarah Douglas, David Gordon, former director of the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Milwaukee Art Museum, has this to say about deaccessioning:
'The position of the American Association of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors is that it is always wrong unless the funds are used to buy new art. I disagree. Suppose you have a museum in a city that has fallen on hard times and its base of support has diminished but it still has a great collection. You wish to make sure that the museum stays open six days a week, that its artworks are being conserved and that it’s able to put on adventurous exhibitions, but you don’t have the money to do any of this. As you cut costs, you are in particular danger of weakening the conservation program, so that the fundamental function of the museum, as a guardian of works, is jeopardized. In that circumstance, it seems wrong to say, 'Well, you can’t do anything that involves the art.'"
I'm immediately inducting Gordon into my Museum Director Hall of Fame (along with Hugh Davies, Richard Armstrong, and Christine Miles). I mean, how is what Gordon says even remotely controversial?
Thanks to the Deaccessioning Blog for the pointer. Related Deaccessioning Blog posts today:
Did Deaccessioning Thoughts Lead to RISD Director's Ouster?
Economic times will force us to face reality.