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News From Tacoma: Deaccessioning Lawsuit Withdrawn

The Tacoma Art Museum has resolved its dispute with the Young family. They are the descendants of the couple who had donated a collection of Qing dynasty items to the museum, which — because the museum had changed its mission — no longer fit in the collection. I wrote about the case the other day, and I did not believe the museum had handled it well.

I still don’t; moreover, the press release from Tacoma that was just sent to me about the resolution does not make clear exactly what happened.

It says, in part:

The Young family has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against Tacoma Art Museum.

“We regret that the conversation between us, the museum, and the community took the direction that it did,” said Al Young. “We appreciate the museum hearing our concerns and we will work together to address them. We believe the museum’s increased emphasis on the work of Chinese American artists of the Northwest will fulfill our parents’ intentions.”

Tacoma Art Museum plans to continue with the second phase of the auction on March 12. It has decided to withdraw a few works that will be donated to an appropriate Northwest institution in the near future. As was always intended and relayed to the Young family, the museum will take some of the funds from the auction to purchase works by Chinese American artists and will give credit to the Youngs for their donation.

 So, probably, the choicest items in the original donation will be kept in public institutions, which is good, and the Youngs will be named as donors on the new art acquired with the money raised from the auction. Both of those are good things, and go some way toward rectifying the orignal mistake.



an ArtsJournal blog