Tuesday, February 09, 2021

More Met

My friend Mark Gold, an experienced observer (and occasional participant) in the Deaccessioning Wars, emails regarding the news about the Met:

“It really feels like the dam has broken.

“To me, the most important sentence was the first line of the NYTimes article:  Facing a potential shortfall of $150 million because of the pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has begun conversations with auction houses and its curators about selling some artworks to help pay for care of the collection.  [Emphasis added.]

“Later, reference was made to the board's plan to revise the Met's collections care policy.

“I've always believed that expanding the definition of direct care was the way forward for museum's dealing with budget issues, more than the inevitable expansion of the AAMD rule.  The significance of the freedom given each individual museum in the AAMD statement to define direct care for itself clears the way to deploy the proceeds of deaccessioning in a much more expansive and powerful way. Doing so frees revenue from other sources to be spent for expenses that are not within care of collections.  At a minimum, it may constitute a museum survival kit.  But it can also become a budgetary philosophy that results in not just the reallocation of expenses amongst various categories, but an increase in revenues to support important initiatives like collections diversity, fair pay, etc.”

This also is a good time to mention that Mark and I – along with additional friends of the blog Brian Frye and Nicholas O’Donnell – will be on a panel together next month as part of a Syracuse University symposium entitled Deaccessioning After 2020. Details here.