The hot topic at this year's mid-winter meetingof the Association of Art Museum Directors in Sarasota, Fla., attended by more than 125 museum heads from 35 states and three countries, was the same as last year's: deaccessioning.
Last year, the meeting looked at the recent announcement that Brandeis University would sell off its art collection and close its Rose Art Museum. This year, with museums still suffering and the debate still raging, the AAMD reinforced its opposition to such sales, saying that it is still against selling a collection as a means to defray an institution’s operating expenses or debts.
In her blog CultureGrrl, Lee Rosenbaum quoted a statement from the AAMD: “Art museums exist for the care and interpretation of art collections — collections that are the cornerstone of research, exhibition, and public programming.” The association's Deaccessioning Task Force has concluded that “works cannot be deaccessioned to provide funds for operating or capital purposes, and such funds may only be used for the refinement and expansion of the collection.”
The announcement comes shortly after Judith Dobrzynskis New York Times Op-Ed piece, in which she argued that with certain limitations museums should be allowed to sell items to help resolve financial crisis. Rosenbaum previously made an argument against this type of sale in a 2005 New York Times Op-Ed article.