Delaware Library the Latest to Deaccession

Delaware Library the Latest to Deaccession
In these difficult economic times, several museums have, quite controversially, resorted to deaccessioning in order to raise capital, and now a library with an art collection is doing the same. Yesterday, Delaware’s News Journal reported that the Wilmington Library plans to sell a collection of 14 illustrations by famed American illustrator N.C. Wyeth to help fund maintenance repairs for its Rodney Square building. Specifically, the revenue from the sale will be allocated toward the endowment of the library as well as the construction of a new roof, heating and air conditioning systems, and other building improvements. The Wyeth works will be featured in a Christie’s auction in New York on December 2.

Interestingly, despite the fact that the city of Wilmington owns both the land on which the library sits and the actual library building, the institution is not publicly funded in full, leaving it dependent upon a private endowment to support nearly 20 percent of its annual budget. That endowment, like those of so many other institutions, has been severely reduced due to the economic downturn, and, like the others who have chosen the path of deaccessioning, H. Rodney Scott, president of the library’s board of managers, considers his institution extremely fortunate to have access to a — for lack of a better word — bailout: “We're very lucky to have some valuable, non-income-producing assets to fall back on.”