The Association of American Museum Directors isn’t having a ton of luck lately in preventing museums from selling works to pay off debts or for any other reason than to buy more works. If the reaction to the Delaware Art Museum’s particular bind is any indication of what the AAMD does, following Randy Kennedy’s story in the New York Times, then it is no wonder.
The Delaware Art Museum issued a statement today that it would sell up to four works of art to raise $30m and retire debt as well as fund its endowment. The museum’s director made clear that the viability of the institution was at stake.
The museum said that repayment terms for tax-exempt bonds issued in 2003 for an expansion became accelerated for various reasons during the financial crisis, and at the same time the museum experienced a significant decline in its endowment as a result of stock market performance, forcing trustees to conduct layoffs and cut funding for exhibitions.
The AAMD’s response to the crisis seems to have been a combination of begging and, well, begging:
The Association of Art Museum Directors had been in private discussions with the museum for several months, encouraging it to seek other ways to address its debt, such as making a public appeal or asking legislators to help restructure its debt. Timothy Rub, the association’s president, said he believed the museum did not seriously explore options other than selling.
Delaware Art Museum Will Sell Works to Pay Off Debt (NYTimes.com)