Friday, June 11, 2010

"The first work to go to the Meadows will be El Greco’s 'Pentecost'"

In today's New York Times, Carol Vogel reports on a new "three-year partnership" between the Prado Museum in Madrid and the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, which "will include the loan of major paintings — one a year — from the Prado." The deputy director of the Prado is quoted as saying, "This can be a way for people to get to know our collection."

Sounds good. But now let's change one fact. Let's assume the "partnership" is in all respects the same, except the Meadows, flush with cash from its wealthy alumni base (I'm making this up, but work with me here), sends some money back to the Prado, to help it fulfill its mission.

Do we now have an occasion for shame? If so, why? If it's fine -- even praiseworthy -- for institutions to lend works to each other, why is it a scandal to generate some revenue from the arrangement?