Friday, January 08, 2010

Tell me again about the "public trust" (a continuing series)

Carol Vogel's "Inside Art" column in today's New York Times is headlined: In Los Angeles, an Urge to Purge. It begins:

"For two years the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been quietly buying paintings and publicly selling them. Readers of Sotheby’s latest auction catalog may have noticed a group of old master paintings coming up for sale on Jan. 28. It isn’t the first time the museum has sold works from its permanent collection. Last year, in January and June, Sotheby’s auctioned paintings by Joshua Reynolds, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Pieter de Hooch and others, raising more than $6 million for the museum."

Hmmm. I could have sworn that "once an object falls under the aegis of a museum, it is held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations."

It's almost as if the anti-deaccessionists don't really believe the works are held in the public trust at all, but merely say so when it serves their purposes.