Archive for June, 2009

Museums Voice Opposition to New York’s Anti-Deaccessioning Law

June 23, 2009

Major New York art organizations are reportedly uniting in opposition to the state’s proposed legislation on regulating the practice of deaccessioning artwork.  The legislation was introduced in March by Assembly member Richard Brodsky.  (See March 18 post).  Organizations that have joined in a letter expressing their concerns to Assemblyman Brodsky are said to include the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, and the Studio Museum of Harlem.  Richard Armstrong, Director of the Guggenheim Museum has apparently also written to Richard Brodsky about the proposed legislation.

Institutions may deaccession artwork for a variety of reasons ranging from the intent of donors, to covering necessary running costs, or to purchase other artwork.  Raising funds has been a particularly thorny issue recently considering the drop in value of some endowments and other economic conditions.  The New York proposal would prevent to use of revenue gained from artwork sales to be used for “operating expenses.”  There has, however, have been some concern as to precisely what such expenses may encompass. 

While deaccessioning may unfortunately curtail the public’s access to certain artworks – assuming such works are sold to private collectors – limiting art organizations from raising funds at this time may be an even greater harm.  Because of this, the potential results as well as the intent of the proposal should be seriously considered.


New York Bill A06959 summary and text 

Notes from an interview with Richard Armstrong, May 2009

 Institutions Try to Slow Bill to Curb Sales of Art

A New View of the Hill – the Acropolis Museum Sets to Open

June 18, 2009

The Acropolis Museum in Athens, originally planned to open 5 years ago, is now scheduled to open this Saturday, June 20th.  The museum was designed, in part, as a statement about the ongoing dispute over the marble sculptures that were removed from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin some 200 years ago.  The sculptures, also known as the Elgin marbles, are currently held in the British Museum and their return has been long sought by Greece.  The Parthenon marbles have been emblematic of the dispute between countries whose cultural objects were either or taken or sold in the past, and those countries who retain the objects now.

In an interesting development, an offer made by the British Museum to loan the sculptures to the Acropolis Museum was rejected.  An acceptance of the offer apparently would have involved acknowledgement of the British Museum as the legal owner of the disputed sculptures.  

Greece Rejects British Museum’s Terms for Elgin Marbles Loan (Bloomberg)

New Acropolis Museum to Open Next Month

Images:  The New Acropolis Museum (NY Times)

The Acropolis Museum (official site):