What is Art Deaccessioning


    Opportunity or threat? Let’s find out what Art Deaccessioning is and what the prospects are.

    2020 has put a strain on the world’s museums which, due to repeated lockdowns, have been forced to close their doors to the public with considerable financial damage.

    Starting with American museums, the phenomenon of Art Deaccessioning has developed to cope with the economy lost during the global crisis.

    But what is deaccessioning? This is the auction sale of works from the permanent collection by museums.

    In America, the deaccessioning process is regulated by guidelines from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Director (AAMD) which state that from April 2020 and until 2022 the sale of works from the collection of a museum can no longer take place just to buy new ones.

    This concession is due to the profound crisis caused by the health emergency in the cultural sector. About 90% of the world’s museums were temporarily closed during the crisis and the remaining 10% may never reopen again. The survey by the Network of European Museum Organizations – NEMO revealed losses of an average of 20-300 euros per week due to the closure and interruption of travel.

    Furthermore, the reduction in charitable contributions and sponsorships for public and private museums have put the financial sustainability of museums at risk, so much so as to cause a drop in salaries and layoffs.

    Art Deaccessioning would seem to represent a winning model for dealing with the financial crisis, but the debate is very heated.

    According to some experts, the sale of museum works would benefit both the market enriched by masterpieces of great interest for collectors and the museums themselves, which could focus more on building a collection more in line with their mission.

    According to others, however, the pouring into the market of such works could lead to an increase in financial speculation, as well as a deprivation for the public who will no longer be able to enjoy those works.

    Among the cases of Art Deaccesioning that of the Everson Museum in Syracuse in the state of New York, which sold Jackson Pollock’s “Red Composition” at Christie’s for $ 13 million, but also at the Brooklyn Museum, which in October 2020 he sold a table by Carlo Mollino at Sotheby’s for 6.1 million dollars, as well as works by Monet, Mirò, Matisse and Degas.


    Art Deaccesioning is becoming an attractive hypothesis also in Asia and the UK. The Kansong Museum in Seoul has already sold two masterpieces of Buddhist art, while the Royal Academy in London is planning to sell Michelangelo’s “Tondo Taddei”, estimated at around 100 million pounds.

    In Italy, Art Deaccesioning will not easily find fertile ground, especially in public museums, whose archived assets are inalienable.

    Surely the world of art, at the level of public and market use, will be greatly changed if more and more museums are forced to sell their works for survival reasons.

    However, it is not that simple, even in the case of museums, to be able to sell their works.

    In fact, it is also essential for museums to have innovative management systems capable of creating a complete and updated archive of the works of art in the collection.

    Among the useful tools for archiving works of art in favor of operators and large museum institutions we find Art Rights, a professional platform that allows you to create the Art Rights Certificate, the first Passport of the work of art composed of over 200 fields that can be filled in depending on the information, thus facilitating the due diligence and provenance processes on works of art.

    And you, do you know the phenomenon of Art Deaccesioning?

    Photo Credits: Steve Dubb, Non Profit News


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