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Museums’ Tangled Web—Part II

If you’re an ArtsJournal reader new to CultureGrrl, please start here. Then jump right into my current provocative post:
Every once in a while, CultureGrrl goes out on a limb, expressing views that will get her into trouble. This is one of those times.
Yesterday, in my response to the Terry Teachout Challenge, I posted a list of “best practices” of museum websites. I promised to follow up with “what museums never post, but should.” So here goes:
CultureGrrl‘s faithful fans from her old “blogspot” days (which ended only yesterday) know about my strong belief that museums hold their art collections in trust for the public and should act accordingly. On the subject of deaccessioning, I am what attorney Donn Zaretsky called in his Art Law Blog yesterday an “absolutist.”
So my radically conservative proposal is this: Museums should identify on their websites any works that they have targeted for disposal, several months in advance of their sale. This gives notice to the public and to the state attorney general’s office that part of the public patrimony may go private. The posting should include a description of the work and the reasons why it is deemed expendable.
This is not to say that museums should never dispose of objects. It’s just that the process should be completely transparent. If that makes it harder for museums to deaccession, so be it.
But wait, there’s more!
COMING SOON: More on what museums should post but don’t.

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