According to the Journal article the museum has been selling things off for a while. And last January, it shipped off its 6,000-volume art library as a gift to Montclair State University . The museum may sell its costume and rug collections next and the Native American artworks could also be in peril.
The Association of Art Museum Directors forbids museums from using the sale of art in their permanent collections to pay for general operating expenses or to underwrite loans but deaccessioning can be a way to refine a museum's focus, selling things that don't fit the vision to acquire things that do. But lately the continued paring down has the public, and potential donors, concerned. James Panero's article in the Journal seems to indicate that there are a variety of factors to consider in the Montclair Art Museum sale and that the reasons for this particular deaccessioning are far from cut and dried. Collections carefully put together over years and time represent a particular mission to both the museum and the community it serves and so care must be taken to make sure that the art itself just doesn't become any emergency bailout package.