Monday, August 14, 2017

Tell me again about the public trust (more than 400 photos from MoMA edition)

MoMA is selling more than 400 photos from its collection at Christie's over the next nine months.

I thought I very recently read somewhere that "one of the most fundamental and longstanding principles of the museum field is that a collection is held in the public trust and must not be treated as a disposable financial asset," but I must be mistaken.  If that were true, this sale could not be happening.

You might also think that the sale of these four hundred works "sends a message to existing and prospective donors that museums can raise funds by selling parts of their collection, thereby discouraging not only financial supporters, who may feel that their support isn’t needed, but also donors of artworks and artifacts, who may fear that their cherished objects could be sold at any time to the highest bidder to make up for a museum’s budget shortfalls."  But again, you'd be mistaken.

These are funny "principles."  Apparently they only apply some of the time.