Letter to the Arts Editor January 11, 2009
To The Editor:
Re “Whose Rules Are These Anyway?”
by Jori Finkel [Dec. 28, 2009]:
Ms. Finkel asks the right question but stops short of answering why museums should be restricted in how they use proceeds from art sales. The argument in favor of using proceeds for general operating purposes is: The museum needs money, and art sales generate money.
But once museums start using art as a kitty for general expenses, they will quickly become dependent on it, making donors less willing to contribute since there’s always art to sell. Donors would also be less willing to give art that might be sold to pay the electric bill. And since only the best art in the collection is worth selling, a museum might sell off those works.
Selling of the best work, and considering the collection a financial asset, puts the museum in direct opposition to its role as a public resource.
Sincerely, Tom Shapiro