Facing a potential shortfall of $150 million because of the pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has begun conversations with auction houses and its curators about selling some artworks to help pay for care of the collection.
“This is the time when we need to keep our options open,” said Max Hollein, the Met’s director, in an interview. “None of us have a full perspective on how the pandemic will play out. It would be inappropriate for us not to consider it, when we’re still in this foggy situation.”
Like many institutions, the Met is looking to take advantage of a two-year window in which the Association of Art Museum Directors — a professional organization that guides its members’ best practices — has relaxed the guidelines that govern how proceeds from sales of works in a collection (known as deaccessioning) can be directed.
In the past, museums were permitted to use such funds only for future art purchases. But last spring, the association announced that, through April 10, 2022, it would not penalize museums that “use the proceeds from deaccessioned art to pay for expenses associated with the direct care of collections.”
The Brooklyn Museum led the way last fall in taking advantage of this shift, raising a total of $31 million at auction sales in the United States and Europe for the care of its artworks.
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