Deaccession Regulations Passed by NYS Legislature

Thomas Eakins' Wrestlers has been deaccessioned at least three times. Photo Courtesy of CultureMonster

In sluggish times, museums have discovered one way of making money without raising operating costs: selling off the collection. Deaccessioning, the removal and sale of art from a museum’s collection, is a hot-button topic these days. Should the public be deprived of a significant work of art just because a museum’s board made some poor financial choices in the last fiscal quarter? I tend to think no. However, there are circumstances where deaccessioning a work makes sense (like if it doesn’t fit with the rest of the collection or was ruined by a careless conservator).

New York State has just passed an amendment that would regulate deaccession practices for organizations chartered by the NYS Board of Regents (the folks in charge of education in the state) after 1890 and they’re working on a pre-1890 rule too.

CutlureGrrl Lee Rosenbaum explains that the amendment enables deaccessioning only if:

—The item is inconsistent with the mission of the institution as set forth in its mission statement.

—The item has failed to retain its identity.

—The item is redundant.

—The item’s preservation and conservation needs are beyond the capacity of the institution to provide.

—The item is deaccessioned to accomplish refinement of collections.

—It has been established that the item is inauthentic.

—The institution is repatriating the item or returning the item to its rightful owner.

—The institution is returning the item to the donor, or the donor’s heirs or assigns, to fulfill donor restrictions relating to the item which the institution is no longer able to meet.

—The item presents a hazard to people or other collection items.

—The item has been lost or stolen and has not been recovered.


Read the rest of Rosenbaum’s unpacking here. Saucy stuff!

For more deaccessioning news, visit The Deaccessioning Blog.


One Comment on “Deaccession Regulations Passed by NYS Legislature”

  1. […] to a museum then they aren’t going to get to see the object anyway. If deaccessioning is done transparently and well, it can even clarify a museum’s collection in addition to providing much-needed financial […]

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