Art News reports that leading international museum directors have restated their opposition to the financially motivated sale of works of art from public collections when the proceeds are used for “anything other than acquisitions or the direct care of the collection”. The call comes at time when post-recession austerity measures pose a significant threat to arts funding.
Manuel Borja-Villel, speaking as president of the International Council for Museums and Collections of Modern Art, has said his Council was concerned by cases when money from sales was diverted to things that had little to do with collections such as expansions. “It is important to restate that a public collection is different from a private collection,” said Borja-Villel. “The public collection has an element of memory – we must respect what colleagues have collected before us”. He added decisions need to be made by directors, “not by politicians or just managers”.
This follows a hardening of the US Association of Art Museum Directors opposition to deaccessioning to raise funds for operating expenses and expansion projects. Concern is also rising in the UK at the the lack of safeguards to protect collections when the pressure on local authority finances will increase following the coalition government's austerity drive.
Stephen Deucher, the director of the Art Fund, summed up the growing concerns, saying “we are implacably opposed to councillors pointing to a Picasso and seeing a short-term solution to a funding crisis”.
Image: Ernest Normand's Bondage (1895), 'privatised' recently by a UK regional museum