Deaccessioning of Art and Attorneys General: Perspectives and Intersections
Art museums and institutions are often faced with competing interests; on one side lie the financial realities of their institution and the vitality of their collection; pieces within their permanent collection which are no longer in vogue may carry a valuable market value that would allow an institution to purchase other pieces in keeping with the prevailing tastes of the age. Deaccesioning - the practice of selling or exchanging pieces from a museum’s permanent collection – allow institutions to address these realities within the boundaries of the ethical norms established by the museum community’s professional associations.
A potential deaccesion, however, may trigger the other competing consideration; pieces of art that carry with them the wishes and instructions of the donor that the donated piece(s) remain in the museum’s collection in perpetuity for the benefit of the public. Under such a scenario, the respective state attorney general must oversee and weigh in on the museum’s proposed transaction, as guardians of the public’s interest in charitable trusts.
This webinar introduces viewers to the world of deaccessioning and the role of state attorneys general in this process. By using recent cases and hypotheticals, webinar participants provide a brief history of the subject matter, definitions of relevant and germane terminology and an overview of the role state regulators may or may not be required to play in the process. What remedial measures are available for state attorneys general in blocking or approving a proposed deaccession? What are the ethical considerations for museums and art institutions when considering a possible sale? And what do recent trends tell us about deacessioning and attorney general enforcement? Our participants address these and other pertinent questions.
The webinar is divided into the following sections: