Friday, January 07, 2011

As if on cue . . .

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephan Salisbury reports this morning that the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has sold five works and plans to sell five more.

The five already sold are: Autumn Still Life by William Merritt Chase; Looking Over Frenchman's Bay at Green Mountain (1896) by Childe Hassam; Flowers (1893) by John H. Twachtman; Bathers in a Cove (1916) by Maurice Prendergast; and Great White Herons (1933) by Frank Weston Benson.

Hey, wait a minute! Weren't we just told that this is a terrible message to potential donors. Why wouldn't somebody say, "Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell this tomorrow?"

Besides, separate and apart from any impact on future donations, those works were held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations. How DARE the museum sell them? It's an outrage, I tell you.

Or is it?

Janet Landay, executive director of the AAMD, says: "It's a normal part of building a collection. It shouldn't be such a touchy subject."

Yes, stop being so touchy. It's totally normal for museums to sell work. Who said anything about sending negative messages to potential donors?

Who ever said the works were held in the public trust to be accessible to present and future generations?

Where did you ever get such crazy ideas? Selling work is a totally normal non-touchy thing to do. Why is that so difficult for you to understand, Mr. Touchy?

David Brigham, president and chief executive of the Pennsylvania Academy, goes so far as to say "it's a positive story." "Collections aren't static," he said. "They aren't meant to be static."

No, they're not.