Thursday, December 31, 2020

"One of the few silver linings to emerge from the pandemic was the announcement, back in April, that the American Alliance of Museum Directors had relaxed its guidelines on deaccessioning. For now, museums can sell works to pay for operating expenses. Few have followed through, however—perhaps because art-world pundits, once again, responded with conservative alarm."

I just came across this piece by Nikki Columbus in n+1, which includes the following on the BMA deaccessioning controversy:

"The latest scandale du jour is the Baltimore Museum of Art’s deaccession plans. While legitimate questions have been raised about the upcoming sale of three paintings, the castigation is redolent with racial privilege. In a particularly ghoulish piece of commentary ('As night follows day, natural disasters bring out the scammers ready to exploit public confusion and fear'), the Los Angeles Times’s Christopher Knight recently complained about 'mission-driven' deaccessions—i.e., selling works to finance increased equity and diversity for both museum employees and audiences, by raising salaries, restructuring staffing, offering free admission, and expanding museum hours. Yet the alternative is ensuring that the office and the visitors remain white, while security and maintenance stay Black and brown. It is effectively an argument for maintaining white supremacy at museums."