Deborah Solomon works extra hard to compare the Delaware Art Museum to Detroit’s embattled collection in her New York Times story on the Museum’s decision to sell two more works this fall–a Winslow Homer (above) and a Alexander Calder (below.) Of course, the two situations have next to nothing in common. In Delaware, the museum seems to have lost the support of the surrounding community, which is explicitly not the case in Detroit where creditors were demanding the sale of city assets.
Interestingly, the Delaware Museum is comparable in one sense. The museum’s management is choosing works that were purchased with museum funds instead of donations:
Asked how he chose the Holman Hunt for selling, as opposed to any of the 12,500-odd other works in the museum’s collection, Mr. Miller said the process was relatively straightforward. You might assume that he met with the museum’s curators, asking them to weed out works that struck them as inferior, or too similar to other works to merit space. But the curators were never consulted. “They didn’t want to have anything to do with this,” Mr. Miller said. “And we didn’t want to bring them into this.” Instead, he deferred to the marketplace. He contacted art appraisers from Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams, and had them valuate “a very short list” of works the museum had purchased over the years. Gifts or bequests were excluded, to minimize the potential of lawsuits from donors or their heirs.
Censured Delaware Art Museum Plans to Divest More Works (NYTimes.com)