Thursday, May 19, 2011

Still more on the tough, new deaccessioning rules

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento:  "Among the more perplexing of criteria is the requirement that the art 'item has failed to retain its identity.' What the hell does this mean? It was once a painting but it is now a frisbee?"

Judith Dobrzynski:   "Not bad."

I find the praise of the new rules pretty funny.  I can't emphasize enough how little the new rules do, how minimal the changes are.

They prevent the use of sales proceeds for operating expenses -- but that was always the case.  That's not a change.

They "told museums and historical societies that may may not deaccession objects unless they meet one of ten specific criteria" -- but one of those criteria is "refinement of the collection," which as I've said is no different than saying "because we felt like it."  So as a practical matter, that's not a change either.  The ability of museums to deaccession is not an ounce more restricted than it was before these rules were passed.

They do add a requirement that each museum include in its annual report a list of all items deaccessioned in the past year.

Let me know when the parade is.