Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tell me again about the public trust (a continuing series)

The Akron Art Museum is selling a Cindy Sherman at Christie's in May.  The museum’s director says "he wanted to capitalize on the jump in prices for Sherman’s work."

Remember:  once an object falls under the aegis of a museum, it is held in the public trust, to be accessible to present and future generations.

Also, as a result of this sale, potential donors will say, Why should I give this to you? What guarantee do I have that you're not going to sell this tomorrow?

On the other hand, as the museum director says:  "What’s the greater community benefit, keeping the [photograph] and showing it once every five years, or having a few more million dollars generating money in perpetuity ....?"

Good question!  Perhaps that ought to be the question whenever a museum considers a deaccessioning.  What's the greater community benefit?  Works for me.  Somehow I don't think the AAMD and their minions in the Deaccession Police will agree, however.