Thursday, February 04, 2010

"As the recession forces more museums to cut staff and programs, and even consider closing, critics of this policy complain it’s hard to justify"

Time Out Chicago on an exhibition at DePaul University Art Museum that's about deaccessioning.

From the museum website:

"Most museums remove items from their collections from time to time, a process known as deaccessioning. As a rule it is done discreetly, yet the process is fascinating and the issues it raises are profound: how is quality determined? are canons of taste immutable? This exhibition spotlights the deaccessioning of objects from DePaul's collection, inviting scholars from art history, philosophy, and anthropology—and visitors—to weigh in on the works of art and their fate."

As the Time Out article points out, "the most common arguments for rules limiting deaccessioning hinge on museums’ duty to hold their collections in the public trust" (although some close observers of this debate have somehow managed never to have heard that argument). But then why is it okay for "most museums" to remove items from their collections "from time to time"?