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The “Scoop” that Wasn’t: Fisher Collection’s 75%-25% Rule at SFMOMA Exposed Six Years Ago

In my previous post about the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s deal to display the coveted Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, I took the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Charles Desmarais at his word and credited him with having “dislodged” (as he described it) previously undisclosed information about problematic concessions made by the museum to snare this 100-year loan.

Particularly troubling to me was the requirement that “no more than 25 percent of what is on view [in the three floors of Fisher-named galleries] may come from other lenders or donors” (Desmarais’ words).

Having read my post, a San Francisco museum professional with a sharper memory than mine (or Desmarais’) tipped me off to the fact that art journalist Carol Kino had published the “25%” scoop six years ago, in a piece she did for the NY Times.

Detail from Carol Kino's @CarolKinoNYC Twitter photo

Detail from Kino’s @CarolKinoNYC Twitter photo

Here’s what Carol wrote in June 2010:

The final contract, worked out with Robert Fisher [Doris and the late Donald Fisher’s son], who is on the boards of both the Gap and the museum, stipulates that the collection will be on loan to the museum for 100 years, renewable for another 25; what happens next will be determined by the Fishers’ descendants. It also stipulates a 75 percent to 25 percent ratio of Fisher to non-Fisher work for the new galleries; that the most important works must be shown at least once every five years; and that work can be deaccessioned only to upgrade the collection and in consultation with the museum, which has veto power over certain pieces.

As you will see from my live tweets, below, even Carol may not have quite remembered her own scoop, having tweeted to me that she “thought it sounded familiar.” At the end of this Twitter exchange, I provide my theory as to why the museum may have recently been reluctant to share with me and Desmarais some crucial facts that it had readily disclosed in the past:

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