Friday, August 26, 2011

"Options Dim for Museum of Folk Art"

That's the headline on a follow-up in yesterday's New York Times about the possible closing of the Folk Art Museum.

Again, one option that's not even mentioned is a sale of part of its collection.

For example:  the museum owns "the single largest public repository of works by Henry Darger."  I know I'm famously deaccession-friendly, but suppose, for the sake of argument, that a sale of that collection to another institution (thus satisfying the Ellis Rule and keeping the works in the public trust) could raise enough money to fully solve their financial problems.  Wouldn't that make sense as an option?

Would you rather have the Folk Art Museum continue to exist, minus the Darger collection?

Or would you rather it completely dissolve?  Sure, its collection could be transferred to other institutions, but as one of its curators tells the Times:

"Neither [such institution] would fulfill the function of a stand-alone folk art museum.  We are so much more than the sum of our collections. We’ve played a very pivotal role in the development of this field. The contribution in terms of the scholarship would no longer occur, and that would be a tragedy."

It would be a tragedy.  And the options are dimming.  Doesn't it make sense to at least have this conversation?