Sunday, March 28, 2021

Eight Takeaway from Last Week's Deaccessioning Conference

From Brian Boucher at artnet. (I mentioned the conference earlier here.)

I liked this bit:

"While museums may collect with relative freedom, independent curator and writer Glenn Adamson pointed out that they are subjected to intense scrutiny when selling they sell, and the headlines bear that out. ...

"When they opt to sell, expect 'scorched earth criticism by bloggers,' added lawyer Mark Gold.

"[The San Diego Museum of Art's Roxana Velásquez], on her panel, appealed for more propositions for solutions than just criticism. The current crisis, she said, showcases museums’ most pressing needs. Those in the hot seat need great ideas and empathy. 

"But [the Brooklyn Museum's Anne] Pasternak was defiant. Let bloggers criticize, she said.

"'Haters gonna hate.'"

In related news, I'd like to announce the first item of merchandise for our new gift shop at the Deaccessioning Hall of Fame: "Haters gonna hate" t-shirts, in all sizes, coming soon.

Pasternak has been on a roll lately. She had a great quote in the recent New York Times piece on the state of the deaccessioning debate:

"People will say trustees can pay for this. What planet are they on? Why is it the trustees’ responsibility to pay 100 percent of expenses for public institutions? That attitude is conflicting at best. It’s misinformed to think that every museum has a board full of billionaires."

(Depending on how the "Haters gonna hate" tees sell, we may do a line of "What planet are they on?" merchandise next.)

Boucher's piece addresses this "it's on their fat asses" point too:

"'Boards are not banks,' Everson board chair Jessica Arb Danial said. 'They are fiduciaries.' What’s more, the Everson doesn’t have a single billionaire on its board, she said. ...

"On her panel, too, Pasternak called the assumption that her board could simply write checks to cover pandemic shortfalls 'perplexing.'

"Likewise, Mark Gold, a partner at Smith Green and Gold, in Massachusetts, who was counsel to the Berkshire Museum, called it 'offensive' to assume that boards are stocked with super-wealthy members, saying that he works with institutions whose boards include local business owners and school teachers."