Art Scoping

Episode 31: James H. Duff

October 10, 2020 Maxwell L. Anderson
Art Scoping
Episode 31: James H. Duff
Chapters
Art Scoping
Episode 31: James H. Duff
Oct 10, 2020
Maxwell L. Anderson

The headlines are everywhere: Multiple museums are today selling artworks to cope with financial challenges brought on by the pandemic. In this episode, the past chair of the Professional Issues Committee of the Association of Art Museum Directors, James H. Duff, shares why and how AAMD arrived at restrictions on “deaccessioning” decades ago, and the impact of AAMD’s April 2020 resolution relaxing those restrictions. We discuss why so much art is typically in storage, and consider potential threats, including a mandate to capitalize collections—putting their fair market value on museum balance sheets—and the risk that private collectors will be discouraged from donating artworks to museums that might sell them to cover operating costs. Or the possibility that cash contributions to museums will decline once capitalized art collections are fungible—transforming the image of a museum from that of an educational institution to an entity with suddenly liquid holdings valued in millions or even billions of dollars.

Show Notes

The headlines are everywhere: Multiple museums are today selling artworks to cope with financial challenges brought on by the pandemic. In this episode, the past chair of the Professional Issues Committee of the Association of Art Museum Directors, James H. Duff, shares why and how AAMD arrived at restrictions on “deaccessioning” decades ago, and the impact of AAMD’s April 2020 resolution relaxing those restrictions. We discuss why so much art is typically in storage, and consider potential threats, including a mandate to capitalize collections—putting their fair market value on museum balance sheets—and the risk that private collectors will be discouraged from donating artworks to museums that might sell them to cover operating costs. Or the possibility that cash contributions to museums will decline once capitalized art collections are fungible—transforming the image of a museum from that of an educational institution to an entity with suddenly liquid holdings valued in millions or even billions of dollars.