Association of Art Museum Directors Sanctions Delaware Art Museum
by MH Miller via “The Observer”
“The Association of Art Museum Directors has sanctioned the Delaware Art Museum following the institution’s deacessioning a work from its collection to help pay off its debt. William Holman Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil(1868) sold at Christie’s this week for a final hammer price of $4.25 million, far below estimate. Sanctions result in the museum being unable to accept exhibition loans from any of 242 AAMD members, not to mention a serious loss of reputation among the art community. The AAMD’s statement on the matter is below.
The Association of Art Museum Directors is deeply troubled and saddened that the Delaware Art Museum has deaccessioned and sold a work of art from its collection to pay outstanding debt and build its operating endowment. Art museums collect works of art for the benefit of present and future generations. Responsible stewardship of a museum’s collection and the conservation, exhibition, and study of these works are the heart of a museum’s commitment to its community and to the public. It is therefore a fundamental professional principle that works can only be deaccessioned to provide funds to acquire works of art and enhance a museum’s collection.
AAMD does not agree that the Delaware Art Museum had only two options to address its current financial challenges—sell works from the collection or close the museum. Over the course of more than six months prior to this sale, AAMD reached out to the Delaware Art Museum’s leadership on multiple occasions in the hope that we could offer assistance in investigating alternatives to the planned sale—including helping the museum to campaign for private funding—in order to support the museum in upholding the highest professional standards. With this sale, the museum is treating works from its collection as disposable assets, rather than irreplaceable cultural heritage that it holds in trust for people now and in the future. It is also sending a clear signal to its audiences that private support is unnecessary, since it can always sell additional items from its collection to cover its costs. . . . . .”