New Law to Prevent Gallery Auctions in New York
Endowments are losing money, which means art museums have less to pay their staff and run their galleries. The solution? Well, they can fire some of their staff, or they can sell off some of their art.
Wealth-Bulletin reports that New York lawmakers are looking for ways to keep the latter from happening. After all, the last thing we want is for the recession to result in less art in our museums. There are already some laws about "de-accessioning" in place, but the newly proposed bill intends to make selling off collections to raise money for operating expenses more difficult. "State Senator Richard Brodsky, a co-sponsor of the bill that could set a legal precedent if enacted, said it came at the behest of the museum community and was drafted with the support of the Museum Association of New York," reports Wealth-Bulletin. "The bill would permit museums to sell collections only if the proceeds could be used for acquisitions or for the preservation, protection and care of works in the collection."
We'd love to think that this will incite museums to find creative ways to save money -- like better energy efficiency -- but realize that this will probably mean jobs, and a $12 sandwich instead of a $10 one at the cafe. Institutions have already raised admission fees, put a hold on expansion plans, and limited special events and new exhibits.
This bill comes in the wake of a controversial sale by the National Academy Museum, which sold Sanford Robinson Gifford's "Mount Mansfield, Vermont, 1859," and Frederic Edwin Church's "Scene on the Magdalene" from 1854 to raise $13.5 million. According to Wealth-Bulletin, "An Academy spokeswoman defended the deal, which she said was done in the face of "serious financial danger" and to protect its 7,000-piece collection focused on American art. The spokeswoman said: 'It's not like we went out and spent the money or handed it to AIG.'"
It's hard to decide which corner to cut in tough economic times.
I remember being asked once if I were in a burning building and had the chance to save one anonymous human being or the last existing copy of Shakespeare's Complete Works, which would I choose?