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National Academy’s Branagan to Meet with AAMD Representatives

Carmine Branagan, director of the National Academy

Following up on the Association of Art Museum Director’s stated willingness to “revisit its decision” blackballing the National Academy for its desperation deaccessions, and taking it up on its offer to meet with “the National Academy’s leaders to clarify their intentions for the future of the collection,” Carmine Branagan, the New York institution’s embattled director, will talk with AAMD representatives next week.

Branagan told me:

I actually see this as an opportunity to set things right at the Academy and also to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the AAMD about being a proactive advocate for museums.

I think that Carmine Branagan’s telling AAMD how to advocate for museums is going to be a non-starter.

For the time being, none of AAMD’s member museums appear to be breaking ranks by collaborating on exhibitions with the Academy, notwithstanding this comment to CultureGrrl before AAMD’s midwinter meeting by Malcolm Rogers, director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Several AAMD members (including the BMFA) had promised loans to the Academy’s Zorn/Sargent/Sorolla show (scroll down), scheduled for 2010, but all bets were off once institution’s important Church and Gifford paintings hit the market. (Still no word on who bought those.)

Branagan informed me:

There are no AAMD members who are lending to us or borrowing from us. Ouch!

As I’ve said here and here, that seems to me excessive punishment. And AAMD’s further stricture against its members’ collaborating with the Academy on any project, however worthy, still strikes me as an assault on academic freedom.

However, my guess is that, at minimum, AAMD will insist on a learned-my-lesson pledge from the Academy that it will never again sell art to pay debts or operating expenses.

In her Q&A with me in her office before I broke this story in December. Branagan answered my question about whether this would be the last such deaccesssion by stating:

You and I know that you never say “never.”

I think this discussion will need a very skilled mediator.

an ArtsJournal blog