The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is selling more than 200 prints and photographs from its collection to raise funds amid a budget deficit caused by the pandemic.
Nearly 220 works will be offered through three auctions at Christie’s starting September 24, when a slice of photographs from the Civil War era will be offered. Works by artists such as Robert Frank, Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Stella are also up for auction. Together, the three sales are expected to generate between $ 900,000 and $ 1.4 million.
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Met director Max Hollien said Artnet news that all the works selected for these auctions are duplicates of his collection. According to Artnet news, Tobias Meyer, private art dealer and former Sotheby’s executive, is one of his advisers for the cession plan.
The museum is benefiting from a policy change in the era of the pandemic published by the Association of Directors of Art Museums that is in place until April 2022. The adjustment allows museums to sell works of art. art of their collections to raise funds for the maintenance of the collection, rather than simply to pave the way for future acquisitions, as pre-pandemic policy envisioned.
Other museum transfers prompted by AAMD’s temporary policy have drawn criticism. Last year, the Baltimore Museum of Art planned to sell works by Andy Warhol, Clyfford Still and Brice Marden at Sotheby’s in New York. After a public outcry, the museum removed the works at the last minute. This museum had planned to use the money from the sale to diversify its collection, rather than balancing its budget because of the financial fallout from the pandemic. Also last year, the Brooklyn Museum of Art sold works by Old Masters to raise funds for the maintenance of the collection.
Although disposal is a common practice in museums, institutions generally do not part with such important works as those sold recently. The recent sale of works from institutional funds has sparked a tense debate inside and outside the museum world. Opponents of this practice claim that museums sell crucial pieces of art history, and possibly put them in private hands. Proponents claim this allows institutions to radically reshape their collections, perhaps in a way that allows for more diversity.
Each year, the Met typically removes around $ 10 million worth of artwork. Hollein said the museum has “significant endowment funds” allocated for acquisitions. As a result, the museum has decided to sell the current edition cache to support the museum staff in charge of collections management. “It seems appropriate to use the proceeds of our regular divestiture program to support the salaries of fundraising staff in this exceptional year,” said Hollein. Artnet news.
“The museum approaches the divestiture with the same degree of strategy and deliberation that we apply to acquisitions,” Holstein said in a statement released by the Met in February. The museum’s estimated revenue losses were $ 150 million. “It will be years before we can hope for the full return of tourism revenues,” Hollein wrote.
This isn’t the only time in recent memory that a New York museum has auctioned off a treasure of multiples. In 2017, after an appraisal of its photography collection, the Museum of Modern Art auctioned nearly 400 historic photographs for $ 2 million. The proceeds from the sale were donated to the museum’s acquisition fund.
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