Thursday, June 24, 2010

Use Your Judgment

A very interesting law review article from Fordham's Linda Sugin on deaccessioning and university art collections. She diagnoses "the underlying conflict" as one of "inconsistent conceptualization": critics of university deaccessioning "fail to distinguish museums from other institutions that own art but are not primarily museums," while a university that seeks to sell art is looking towards its "complex educational responsibilities" -- in other words, a university's mission is larger than its art collection. The differences between museums and universities "may justify different obligations with respect to the same subject. The public interest carried out by universities on the one hand, and museums on the other, diverge enough to justify one perspective on art collections for museums and another for universities. Those differing perspectives should justify different deacessioning standards for museums and universities." She proposes that university trustees "exercise a heightened level of attention when selling art, but retain their discretion to act in the best interests of the university."