Another Museum to Sell its Work

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey is deaccessioning 50 works of art from its collection through Christie’s auction house in New York.  The museum is planning to raise funds to add to its endowment, which is now down 26% according the Journal, in order to have enough cash on hand to back its loans.  The museum expanded its facilities in 2001 at a cost of $14.5 million and is now saddled with the resulting debt.  The museum eventually intends to use the funds gained from the sales of their artwork for future acquisitions, but the immediate need and impetus for sales is the need to keep the endowment at a level sufficient to support the museum’s debt.  This museum, too, is looking for ways around the AAM and AAMD guidelines for deaccessioning artwork from its collection.  The AAM Code of Ethics states that museum collections may not be collateral for loans (“encumbered”) but in this instance the two step process involves first, selling the works of art and putting the money into the museums endowment and second, using the endowment as collateral for the loans.  The end result is that the funds raised from deaccessioning artwork are then indirectly encumbered by the museum’s debts.  It seems that adding an extra step is a way to justify the otherwise unacceptable process.   Click here to read the Wall Street Journal’s full article.