Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Between a rock and a hard place

Duties, responsibilities, and operations of boards is the sort of stuff I get really excited about. Yeah, I’m that guy.

BUT – the terror of being on a board that has to make hugely controversial decisions that fly in the face of the mission and established philosophies for existence, to help ensure the survival of the organization is the sort of thing that might give me a nightmare. I’ve been on boards that have made what we felt were “grave” decisions, but in reality, they were nothing compared to the enormity of decisions made by museums outlined in this article from the Washington Post.

Although Detroit’s solution is obviously preferred, having access to nearly $1B in pledges is otherwise unheard of. Everyone else truly is between a rock and a hard place.

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2 comments on “Between a rock and a hard place

  1. gormleykimberly
    October 6, 2014

    Ugh! It breaks my heart to read of museums having to sell off their collections, but it makes me even sadder to think of struggling museums being blacklisted by other institutions for making a very tough decision. That doesn’t seem productive. I wonder if a more acceptable policy for the selling of artwork could be arranged- perhaps museums in need could sell their artwork to other museums instead of to private parties? Then the artwork at least stays with the public. Thoughts?

  2. zeniasimpson
    October 7, 2014

    I completely agree with Kim that blacklisting museums who have to sell their art to stay open in counterproductive. The sanctions are relentless, including not accepting traveling exhibitions and not even having contact with the sanctioned museum in question. While it is fair to argue that museums are entrusted with preserving and keeping art for future generations, if museums close their doors that wouldn’t happen either. I think museums buying from one another is a great idea since auctions can be problematic. While the future of museums for some seem great, the Corcoran proves that some museums are facing “grave decisions” and something must be done today.

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