The American Alliance of Museums, in which the Delaware Art Museum is a member, has issued this forceful statement condemning its debt-driven deaccesssions. But the statement fell short of expelling the museum from AAM membership:
The Delaware Art Museum’s announcement that it will sell four works from the collection in order to pay its debts and support its endowment is a flagrant violation of the AAM standard for U.S. museums, succinctly embodied in this enduring principle of our field: the museum is there to save the collection; the collection is not there to save the museum.
AAM standards dictate that proceeds from deaccessioning be used for either further acquisitions for the collection or for direct care of the collection. Clearly, the announced parameters of this pending sale meet neither of these strictures.
The Delaware Art Museum’s decision threatens to erode the trust that museums have earned from the American public over more than two centuries, as well as the respect museums have been assiduously building with elected officials and policy makers, at all levels of government. These bonds are essential to the long-term sustainability of the entire museum field. Thus it is critical that the museum field condemn the declared actions of the Delaware Art Museum.