A. Randolph College promotes the Maier Museum as an art museum in many different ways including inits promotional materials, and on its Form 990, which states: “the College has an extensive collectionwhich is maintained in a museum under curatorial care and is used for instruction, public exhibition,scholarly research, preservation for future generations, and loan and exchange programs.” Thus,Randolph College is clearly and publicly stating that it runs a museum. AAMD believes that colleges anduniversities that create art museums must operate those museums to the same standards as any other artmuseum.
Q. Doesn’t the current economic downturn—which is dramatically reducing revenue for collegesand museums along with everyone else—suggest that AAMD’s policy on deaccessions may beinconsistent with these hard times?
A. Just the opposite: AAMD’s prohibition on deaccessioning art works for operating funds existsprecisely to safeguard collections at moments of challenge.
Q: Is it AAMD’s position that Randolph College should avoid deaccessioning for operatingexpenses, even if the alternative is ceasing to exist?
A: There are a number of alternatives to deaccessioning that organizations can implement when they arefaced with severe economic challenges. We have encouraged Randolph to pursue these alternatives andhave offered our help in doing so.
Q. What has the reaction been from AAMD’s broader membership to this action against the MaierMuseum?
A. The feedback received expresses regret that Randolph College pursued this course of action in the firstplace, and support for the importance of upholding AAMD’s fundamental principles.
Q. If another art museum were to deaccession in this way, how would AAMD respond?
A. As with the National Academy Museum and Randolph College, AAMD’s first response would be tomeet with the institution’s leadership and try to help avoid such a step. If the institution then proceededto deaccession works of art to generate operating revenue, our response would be similar: to consider theappropriate response in light of the circumstances including potential censure and sanctions.
Q. Does Randolph College’s sale of art from the Maier Museum’s collection raise other concernsfor AAMD?
A. The use of a museum’s collection as a source of revenue jeopardizes an essential accounting standardestablished by FASB that affects all museums, not just art museums: that collections are not "assets" inthe sense that a business has commercial assets. For non-profit organizations, the long-standingaccounting rules governing our collections are essential. The rules draw a distinction between thetangible assets an institution might use to generate revenue--for example, real estate--and the collectionsof works of art, which are held in trust for the public, and for the educational benefit and enjoyment of their communities and the nation.
Q: In the past, AAMD has condemned the actions of other art museums when they proposeddeaccessioning for operating expenses, but did not censure those institutions. Is this inconsistentwith the AAMD action’s regarding Randolph College and the Maier Museum?
A: AAMD has spoken out when museums raised the possibility of deaccessioning for operating expenses