Common Deaccessioning Treands

The Deaccession Dilemma: Themes in the American Debate about Art Museum Deaccessions

Theory and Practice, Volume 1, 2018
A leading scholar on museums contends collections are at the heart of art museums and form “their life-blood and raison d’etre.”[1] This statement implies collections are dynamic, vigorous embodiments of a museum’s intellectual history.[2] Others see museums as artworks’ final destinations, with collections that are stagnant and inanimate assemblages. To them, museums are “mausoleums where objects that once had a life now [sit] embalmed for display, [and] come off as precious, enshrined, drained of their juice.”[3] These dueling concepts are just one facet of the ongoing debate among American museum professionals and the public about the ethics, legality, and economic value of deaccessioning works from art museum collections.


A grassroots citizens group established in 2017 with the intent of stopping the sale of the Berkshire Museum’s treasured art collection in order to find an alternate solution to its continued financial shortfall.


The mission of Save the Art is to advocate for and protect the Public Trust — the art and objects belonging to all of us that document humankind’s creative and social history through time.


We thank the Berkshire Eagle for their extensive investigative coverage, the journalists, op-ed writers and our community for their hundreds of letters of concern. In particular, STA applauds Larry Parnass, Investigations Editor, Berkshire Eagle, for his excellent coverage of the Berkshire Museum and achievement of the 2018 Outstanding Journalism award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association.