The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and The Association of Art Museum (AAMD) believe firmly that the sale of works from collections to fund non-collection-related expenses is a violation of the public trust, and is not the path to financial sustainability for museums. On the contrary: the more museums violate the trust of their donors and the public, the more it will diminish the volume of future donations—both cash and objects—and lead to the need for more such sales. The professional practice standards of our two organizations remain in place precisely to avoid such a scenario affecting the wider museum field.
This is exactly the threat posed by the Berkshire Museum’s plans. While the negotiated agreement with the Berkshire Museum may satisfy legal standards, it falls far short of ethical standards and best practices for museums. This is indeed a sad day for the arts community in the Berkshires and the museum community across the country.
We are grateful to the Attorney General’s Office for dedicating the resources to examining this issue of public trust in detail.
The Association of Art Museum Directors advances the profession by cultivating leadership capabilities of directors, advocating for the field, and fostering excellence in art museums. An agile, issues-driven organization, AAMD has three desired outcomes: engagement, leadership, and shared learning. Further information about AAMD’s professional practice guidelines and position papers is available at www.aamd.org.
The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.