Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Rub should take a short drive over to Philbrick’s place to explain why 'Weehawken,' entrusted to PAFA’s care, must remain in Philadelphia for the benefit of its public." (UPDATED)

Lee Rosenbaum remains the only member of the Deaccession Police to seriously grapple with what it might mean for works to be held in the public trust.

The others are content to say:

Works sold for any reason other than acquisitions -- OMIGOD! REPULSIVE! PUBLIC TRUST!!!!

Very same works sold for acquisitions -- No big deal.  Don't be so touchy.  (For example.)

But here's Lee, on yesterday's news that the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is selling "a treasured historic masterpiece" from its collection:

"How can the Association of Art Museum Directors convincingly argue for 'the City of Detroit’s responsibility to maintain and protect an invaluable cultural resource [the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts] that has been entrusted to its care for the benefit of the public,' when one of the association’s own members ... has just announced plans to cavalierly and irresponsibly monetize a treasured historic masterpiece from PAFA’s collection ...?"

She adds:

"How can Detroit successfully (and rightfully) argue for the sanctity of its collection when other museums regard their masterpieces as expendable?"

As I've said repeatedly, the works are either held in the public trust or they're not.  Can't have it both ways.

UPDATE:  More from Lee:  "If AAMD looks the other way when one of its own ... plays fast and loose with the public trust that the 'permanent collection' will ... remain permanent, the credibility of its no-sale argument in Detroit may be seriously undermined."  Ya think?