How an art museum gets rid of art – what’s deaccessioning?

How does an art museum get rid of an artwork and what do they do with the money from that sale? πŸ€”


When an institution deaccessions something, they’re removing something from their repository so they don’t own it anymore. They then put that artwork up for sale for another institution to purchase it.

As stated by the AAMD (the Association for American Museum Directors), in their guidelines they state that the funds from selling the artwork can only be put toward the acquisition of another artwork.

During COVID, though, the guidelines were temporarily edited to allow museums to use the money the got from deaccessioning to pay for staff wages.

Now, however, the AAMD have, again, edited their guidelines to state that “Direct care for purposes of this section means the direct costs associated with the storage or preservation of works of art.”

The funds, now, cannot be used for saving jobs or for temporary display of an artwork.

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