A2, Single Session Panel Discussion: “Selling Our Collections, New perspectives on Old Controversies in Today’s Economy,” Moderated by Doug DeFors (Monday, October 18, 2 PM to 3:15 PM)
By Doug DeFors
Imagine a museum press conference that announced, unapologetically, that the board had voted to sell a number of very valuable paintings from the permanent collection to avoid imminent bankruptcy. What would be your reaction? Surprise? Indignation? Now imagine that this museum is your museum, and among the jobs being saved by the sale is your job. Feel differently about it?
WMA Portland will kick off conference sessions on Monday, October 18 with a panel discussion titled: “Selling Our Collections, New Perspectives On Old Controversies In Today’s Economy.” Guest speakers include: Dr. Robert Breunig, Director of the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNH) who engineered the museum’s recovery after his predecessor sold 21 permanent collection objects to a private dealer to offset debt, Jeffrey Mechanick, Assistant Director of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, (FASB), the agency designated by the IRS to set financial policy standards for nonprofits and museums, and Mark S. Gold, nonprofit and museum law attorney and Harvard museum studies graduate who has written extensively about the need to relax AAM’s financial restrictions for applying deaccession revenue to general operations.
All prominent professional museum associations including AAM have categorically prohibited deaccession revenue from being used for operating expenses. But on it’s website AAM says: “Ethical codes evolve in response to changing conditions, values, and ideas. A professional code of ethics must, therefore, be periodically updated. It must also rest on widely shared values.” Are the best practices and professional ethics for museums changing? Hear these distinguished museum experts discuss how today’s poor economy may be altering the way museums will survive in the future.