Key Source: Policies

Anne Baker

For this thesis I have two key sources, the collection policies for the American Association for Art Museum Directors and the American Alliance of Museums. The AAMD states this as their definition of deaccessioning, These policies are the key as to how museums are supposed to handle deaccessions in a professional and ethical manner. These are the policies that set the standards and the foundation for my thesis argument. When these policies are broken then the issues of deaccessioning become a great concern and are often publicly scrutinized. Because artwork is held within the publics’ trust, these policies are designed to hold museums to their “oath.” Some of these policies state that funds from a deaccession are not allowed to go towards the operating budget of a museum, only towards the acquisition of new objects for the museums collection. Another important aspect to consider is that deaccessioning is allowed if done properly and helps to strengthen the mission of an institution. But most institutions agree that “Deaccessioning decisions must be made with great thoughtfulness, care, and prudence. Expressions of donor intent should always be respected in deaccession decisions and the interests of the public, for whose benefit collections are maintained, must always be foremost in making deaccession decisions” (AAMD). 

Another important policy is that of The American Association for State and Local History. They state that funds from a deaccession should be used for acquisitions of new objects Or the care for the collection. Care for the collection is loosely defined and this presents another problem for deaccessioning and sometimes a loophole for institutions.
Other sources that will help support my thesis will be mostly case studies. These case studies are mostly surrounded on acts of controversial deaccessioning. These are institutions that did not follow proper ethical standards or were considered by some, to be too liberal with the term “CARE.”