Posts Tagged ‘New York A06959’

October Art Sale?

September 22, 2010

The New York State Board of Regents, in an unexpected action, will allow regulations concerning museum deaccessioning practices to expire on October 8th.

Barring some other action, this will allow New York museums and other cultural institutions in the state to sell artwork from their collections to fund general operating expenses and other purposes. Such sales are usually frowned upon by art ethics organizations which typically take a position that art in institutional collections should only be sold to generate funding for the purchase of other artwork.

Richard Brodsky said to the NY Times that the action, “…removes a substantial obstacle to the monetization of art held in the public trust” and [the Board’s failure to halt the lapse] could cause “the transfer of art from public to private hands.”

Update/clarification:  It seems that the fears of museums selling off their collections to pay for general operating expenses has been overblown.  The regulations set to expire are/were temporary measures, as described here.  Existing general regulations continue to prohibit the use of art sale funds for operating costs.  Artifactum will post links to the regulation in the near future-check back.

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

New York Proposal to Regulate Museum Deaccessioning Practices

March 18, 2009

A bill has been proposed in the New York State Assembly that would make it illegal for most museums in the state to freely deaccesssion, or sell off, artworks to meet ordinary operating expenses. The bill was sponsored and drafted by Richard L. Brodsky (D-Westchester). Matthew Titone (D-Staten Island) is co-sponsor.

The New York Times reports that sale proceeds from such artwork could only be used for building the museum’s collection or otherwise preserving the collection. The bill would also restrict a museum from leveraging the value of artworks for loan purposes. “No item in a museum’s collection may be used as collateral or may be capitalized.” A museum is defined as an entity holding or intending to hold collections and which is “a governmental entity, educational corporation, not-for-profit corporation, or charitable trust.” The proposal is apparently in response to the National Academy’s sale of artwork last year and conditions at other state museums and historical sites.

Certain questions about what artwork sale revenue may be used for operating expenses under the bill remain and the proposal establishes a study to consider whether buildings are part of museum collections. The bill also contains provisions for conditions that would permit the sale or removal of artwork from a museum collection because of repatriation purposes, as well as inauthenticity, redundancy, and other reasons. It is unclear as to how the proposed law would interact with the general right to freely alienate property, and whether this ability applies to an institution like a museum or historical site.

At the time of this posting, the text of bill number A06959 was not yet available on the NY Assembly website. At a later time it can be viewed here.  In the meanwhile, a pdf copy is available in connection with the Times report below.

Bill Seeks to Regulate Museums’ Art Sales, NY Times

New York Assembly homepage

Update:  See bill number A06959 text, summary, and actions (NY Assembly).