Friday, November 6, 2020

Two Museums Tried to Sell Art. Only One Caught Grief About it


Officials of the Baltimore Museum of Art had said that some of the proceeds from the sale would have been used to acquire art that would help diversify its collection. Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Two museums planned to sell works from their collections at a Sotheby’s auction on Wednesday night. One moved forward seamlessly, with the Brooklyn Museum reaping almost $20 million for seven works by artists including Henri Matisse, Joan Miró and Claude Monet. The other, the Baltimore Museum of Art, decided to pull its paintings — by Clyfford Still and Brice Marden — two hours before the heavily criticized sale after discussions with the Association of Art Museum Directors, a professional organization advancing best practices in the field. If the disparate reactions to the two sales are a bit bewildering, welcome to the world of deaccessioning, the often byzantine process by which museums get rid of items that no longer serve their long-term interests, whether by sale or donation. [More