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Brooklyn Does It Right: Transferring, Not Selling, Its Costume Collection CORRECTED

Charles James, “Dress, Evening,” 1952, Silk. Gift of Mrs. R. A. Bernatschke, Brooklyn Museum

NOTE: This erroneous post was based on false assumptions, created by the lack of transparency in the museums’ official announcement. A very belated corrective post, describing the systematic deaccessions of many items from Brooklyn’s “transferred” collection, is here.

Another financially pressed institution might say that a long-held collection, which it could not properly conserve or display, fell outside its present mission and should be sold to benefit other acquisitions.

Would the Brooklyn Museum do this? Fuhgeddaboudit!

(I know, I know. That’s a Brooklyn cliché, but those of us with classy Bronx accents have to affect superiority.)

Under the terms of a win-win arrangement (reported by Carol Vogel in today’s NY Times), Brooklyn next month will transfer its important costume collection to the Metropolitan Museum, in a partnership benefiting both institutions and creating a combined collection of some 54,500 costumes and accessories (23,500 of those from Brooklyn). Simultaneous exhibitions drawn from Brooklyn’s trove will be mounted in 2010 at both museums.

(Yes, of course. Carol received the story first: The press release from Brooklyn hit my inbox at 9:15 this morning, so that I could play my favorite game, “Times Catch-Up.”)

According to Brooklyn’s press release, the transferred items “will be known as the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Works from the collection will be fully integrated into the [Met] Costume Institute’s program of exhibitions, publications, and education initiatives.”

Brooklyn’s director, Arnold Lehman, predicted that the arrangement “will create a model for similar museum partnerships both nationally and internationally.”

Let’s hope so.

an ArtsJournal blog