October 29, 2006
The three articles below all appeared within a relatively short space of time & show how much opinion on the merits of deaccessioning varies.
In the first article, a Geneva Museum is trying to sell two ancient manuscripts in order to raise additional funds for the museum. So far, the issues have been dealt with in a secretive way which has heightened the amount of negative opinion. While in an ideal world the museum would keep the manuscripts, selling them enables them to ensure the continued preservation of many other items in their collection. In my opinion, while this sale is not necessarily a good thing, it is not a bad thing either.
In the second article, The Victoria & Albert Museum is considering leasing items in their collection (but not on display) to raise money. Generally people seem of the opinion that this is a good idea – although the only real difference with the first case is that the items are to be leased rather than sold. The intention of raising funds for the institution is almost identical. As these paintings are not on display anyway, it would appear that the only detrimental aspect that people could raise would be increased risk of damage or fading. The counter argument to this would be though that a publicly funded museum has no place in keeping artefacts out of view of the public.
In the last article, the Bury museum (owned by the Local Authority) has stirred up controversy by taking the decision to sell one of the Lowry paintings in their collection to help clear debts from other departments of the council – here the sale is purely for the money & does not directly benefit the museum in any way. Here it is clear that the museum is not making the decision, but is instead being forced into the move by its parent organisation – the paintings are purely seen as a financial asset rather than as part of the area’s local heritage.
October 28, 2006 – 10:10 AM
War of words erupts over sale of ancient texts
Plans by a Geneva museum to sell two ancient manuscripts for millions of dollars have drawn consternation from scholars around the world.
They fear the sale of the papyri, which date back to the 2nd century, could precipitate the break-up of a unique collection of around 50 texts held by the Bodmer Foundation.
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