Monday, April 13, 2015

Tell me again about the public trust (will most likely lead to the museum’s dissolution edition) (UPDATED)

This one is almost too rich.

The Art Newspaper's Julia Halperin reports (the story's dated March 1 but it either just went online or I've been asleep at the switch) that the Detroit Institute is selling a Van Gogh.

Let me repeat that:  the Detroit Institute is selling a Van Gogh.

Wait a minute.  Didn't the Michigan Attorney General tell us the works in the museum's collection were held in charitable trust for the people of Michigan?  I believe that he did.

And didn't Graham Beal, the director of the museum, say that that "any sale of art will most likely lead to the museum’s dissolution"?  Any sale of art.  I believe that he did.

Now we are told (by Beal) that "[d]eaccessioning is not controversial—US museums do it all the time."  The museum had put its deaccessioning program on hold during the city’s bankruptcy proceedings. "We couldn’t sell any works [during the bankruptcy]," says Beal, "because it would have caused such confusion."

Yes, I can imagine people being confused about why they were being told that the sale of any art would most likely lead to the museum's dissolution.  People can be so funny that way.

UPDATE:  Nicholas O'Donnell has some thoughts.