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New York’s Board of Regents Catching Heat for Allowing Museum Deaccessioning Regulations to Expire

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In the middle of last month, you might recall that the New York Board of Regents made the sudden and unexpected move to let the regulations surrounding the sale of art by public museums expire, thus making it easier for them to sell pieces or whole collections to help pay bills, instead of the expected procedure wherein a museum only sells when doing so is in the interest of building up their art holdings in other areas. While there are still provisions in place, the expiration now gives way to older rules that are far more lax in their ability to oversee sales. While the big New York City-based museums who have lobbied against any form of mandatory restrictions are plenty pleased by the Board’s decision, the NY Times reports that those who were in favor are livid over the move. In particular, they’re pinpointing the Board’s chancellor, Merryl H. Tisch, who not only helped the vote to expire go through, but also happens to be connected through family to those big museums who were fighting it (“There are Tisch Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum, for example, named for her father-in-law, Laurence, and his brother, Preston”). Chancellor Tisch, of course, says her family associations had nothing to do with the Board’s decisions. So while there has yet to be any big fire sales of whole collections yet, the situation certainly seems to be gathering some press momentum, with the Board certainly not winning any points along the way. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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