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News Flash: AAMD&#146s revised “Professional Practices” Guidelines

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I hate immediately posting over my important Rotten ‘Soft Diplomacy opinion piece on U.S. museums’ insufficient response to the plight of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. But this is also important:

The Association of Art Museum Directors has just posted its revised Professional Practices in Art Museums, with some important changes. (These guidelines are reconsidered every 10 years.)

I pass these on to you without myself absorbing their full import, because I’ve really got to skip rope and pound the punching bag in preparation for Round Two of the Hartwig-Rosenbaum bout—our planned discussion on tonight’s Which Way, L.A.? (on Los Angeles public radio station KCRW). Our exchange is pegged to the this week’s publication of Felcholino‘s Chasing Aphrodite, their tome exposing the antiquities-related scandals at the J. Paul Getty Museum. An interview with one or both of the authors is also expected to be part of the program.

Here are the just-released changes in AAMD’s professional guidelines, as relayed to me by a PR spokesperson for the association. The first one, as it happens, is antiquities-related. And the change to Paragraph 38 prohibits a use of art-acquisition endowments that I had deplored in a post (to which I link, below) regarding the Cleveland Museum of Art. (I guess I won that one.)

I’ll be examining the new language more closely later, unless I’m battered to a pulp by the Getty Trust’s vice president for communications. (Just kidding; we got along fine last time!)

Paragraph 19 (Paragraph 18 in 2001 edition)
—The language has been clarified regarding obligations of a museum director to ensure that a museum not knowingly acquire a stolen work of art.

Paragraph 27 (Paragraph 27 and 28 in the 2001 edition)
—The document now distinguishes more clearly between a director’s personal collecting of works of art that overlap with or relate to the museum’s own collection, and personal collecting in areas that do not overlap.

—Language regarding conflict of interest guidelines on this issue–previously a separate paragraph, #28, in the 2001 edition–have now been combined into one paragraph.

Paragraph 38 (Paragraph 41 in the 2001 edition)
—The language pertaining to the use of collections, and prohibiting their use as collateral, has been both expanded and clarified. In addition to prohibiting the use of collections as collateral, it also precludes the use of art acquisition endowments as collateral. [Cleveland, do you copy???]

—Museums cannot use a work from the collection as security for a loan, except in the specific instance of the acquisition of that same work. In other words, the seller may retain a security interest in the work until final payment is made (much like a lien on a car when its purchase is financed).

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