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Deaccession Confusion: Mixed Messages from AAMD

Landay.jpg
Janet Landay, AAMD’s executive director: Who’s in charge here?

This appears to be a case of the left side of the mouth not knowing what the right side is saying:

As I reported on Monday, Kaywin Feldman, the new president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, stated in her July President’s Message, posted on AAMD’s website, that member institutions (including her own Minneapolis Institute of Arts) “are posting lists of objects to be [emphasis added] deaccessioned on their websites.” In other words, the public would get a heads-up in advance of disposals.

But wait a minute! This just in from Janet Landay, AAMD’s executive director, in response to my request for examples of institutions now giving the public notice of “objects to be deaccessioned”:

I’m happy to clarify regarding Kaywin’s
President’s Message. She was referring to the new AAMD deaccessioning
policy and the provision: “A member museum should publish on its website
within a reasonable period of time works that have been deaccessioned and
disposed of.” The policy doesn’t require museums to post in advance of
deaccessioning, but of course they are free to do so.

Have any institutions (other than Indianapolis) done so? That had been my question, which received no answer.

Perhaps Kaywin is the best interpreter of her own President’s Message, which clearly endorses prior notice of proposed disposals, as a way to “demystify common museum practices and increase public confidence in the stewardship of our cultural heritage.” But did she miscommunicate when she referred to “objects to be deaccessioned”?

“To be,” or not “to be”?

Once Journalist X finally does get around to publishing his or her exclusive interview with Feldman, perhaps AAMD’s leader will communicate directly with the rest of us and her meaning (or lack thereof) will become clear.

an ArtsJournal blog