As they did in the ongoing Berkshire Museum saga, the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors have just issued a joint statement strongly opposing La Salle University’s planned sales of 46 objects from its museum, announced while students and faculty were away for winter intersession, which ends Jan. 12. (The Association of Art Museum Curators beat them to the punch yesterday with its own statement.)
UPDATE: The Association of Academic Museums and Galleries has now joined the chorus of condemnation.
The two museum organizations have even created a joint logo for these sad occasions:
Here’s the joint statement in full:
The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), an organization representing the entire scope of the museum community, and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), an organization representing 243 directors of North America’s leading art museums, are strongly opposed to plans announced by La Salle University to deaccession 46 works of art from its collection to fund non-museum investments.
College and university art museums have a long and rich history of collecting, curating, and educating in a financially and ethically responsible manner on par with the world’s most prestigious institutions. A different governance structure does not exempt a university museum from acting ethically, nor permit them to ignore issues of public trust and use collections as disposable financial assets. This is a fundamental ethical principle of the museum field, one which all institutions are obligated to respect: in no event shall funds from deaccessioned works be used for anything other than support for a museum’s collections.
We are in conversation with La Salle University about their plans, and we remain hopeful that the University leadership will reconsider their decision. We stand ready to assist, in any way we are able, to find other solutions to the institution’s needs without resorting to the selling of works that can never be recovered, to the great detriment of current and future students and community members.
This is getting to be a funereal ritual. The next step will likely be the expulsion of the La Salle University Art Museum from AAM membership. None of this seems to deter the determined.
Perhaps next Friday’s return of La Salle’s faculty and students from winter break will generate some needed heat.
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