Sunday, January 7, 2018

More on the repugnance of selling art, if you're an art museum

In Philadelphia:
La Salle plan to sell museum masterpieces stuns art community

"La Salle University, which has struggled to plug a projected deficit in recent years, plans to sell 46 pieces of art from its prized museum collection to help fund teaching and learning initiatives in its new strategic plan, officials said Tuesday...

Approved by the school’s board of trustees and announced by university president Colleen M. Hanycz, the decision “is a strategic and good use of our assets,” university spokeswoman Jaine Lucas said. “We are doing what we feel is in the  interest of our students.”
It follows similar steps by other universities around the country in recent years to help stem financial woes — although some schools that have sold or attempted to sell art have faced challenges.
At Brandeis University in Massachusetts, a plan to close its museum and sell its art was reversed after backlash from students and faculty and legal action. Randolph College in Virginia was roundly criticized for its decision to sell a George Bellows painting worth more than $25 million.
The same controversy could follow the decision at La Salle, a 3,200-student Catholic university in Philadelphia’s Logan section, whose collection composes one of the most highly regarded university museums in the region. Just hours after the announcement, members of the local art community began questioning the decision."

"The process of selling art, known as deaccessioning, is a fraught one for museums; major professional organizations like the American Alliance of Museums condemn the sale of art to pay for expansions, physical repairs or ongoing expenses, as opposed to using the proceeds for the acquisition of other works or, perhaps, the care of a collection.

At times, government agencies that oversee nonprofit institutions have intervened to halt sales.

In 2009, for instance, the attorney general’s office in Massachusetts conducted a detailed review of Brandeis University’s unexpected announcement that it would shore up its struggling finances by selling all of the works––including those by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein––held by its Rose Art Museum, one of the most important collections of postwar art in New England.

Later four of the museum’s benefactors sued to stop any art sales.

That lawsuit and the attorney general’s investigation were both resolved in 2011, with Brandeis announcing that it had “no aim, plan, design, strategy or intention to sell any artwork donated to or purchased by” the school for the museum and that the Rose museum will remain a “university art museum open to the public.”

No comments: