Saturday, February 06, 2021

"Like many institutions, the Met is looking to take advantage of a two-year window in which the Association of Art Museum Directors ... has relaxed the guidelines that govern how proceeds from sales of works in a collection (known as deaccessioning) can be directed." (UPDATED 3X)

The Met floats a trial balloon: Facing Deficit, Met Considers Selling Art to Help Pay the Bills. It's considering. It has "begun conversations." It would be "inappropriate" not to consider it, "when we’re still in this foggy situation." They are "engaging in [an] evaluation process" that is "the more conscientious course of action." "Every museum in the U.S. is having these conversations." For them "not to discuss this now would be irresponsible."

They would also like us to know that, if it happens (which it might not, it's only being considered, mind you) it will be done carefully. "As museums periodically do routinely, the Met’s curators will evaluate the holdings in their departments with an eye to which pieces are duplicative or have been supplanted by better examples, or have rarely — if ever — been shown. Works to be sold will then have to be approved by department heads, the museum’s director and the board before public auction."

Also, anticipating one of the main lines of attack from the Deaccession Police (i.e., however legitimate the need, the money should be raised by other means), the story includes the following from a Met curator: "We’re facing a huge budget deficit. We’ve tried for years to get more robust funding for conservation."

So the idea has been floated. The "conversation" has begun. Over to you, Deaccession Police.

UPDATE: Paddy Johnson: "The Association of Museum Directors should have disqualified museums with endowments over a certain size from deaccessioning work. The Met does not need to do this."

Greg Allen: "The Met rolls out its deaccession plan in an exclusive to the Times. Meanwhile no comments from the trustees with the billions to fund the budget gap who will vote on selling artwork instead."

UPDATE 2: Brian Frye: "This is big news. If the Met starts deaccessioning in order to generate operating revenue, it's game over for the deaccessioning police. I'll eat my hat if they don't go bananas."

UPDATE 3: They're going bananas. No hats need be eaten.