I’m a 1980s graduate of the University of Delaware, which is a great place to learn about museums because of its affiliation with Winterthur, Hagley Museum and Library, and Longwood Gardens. Now we’re all discovering it’s also a great place to learn how to mismanage a museum.
If you haven’t been following the story for the past year, the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington is selling some of its collections in an effort to pay off a $20 million debt for the construction of a museum expansion in 2005 and refill its endowment. They first sold a painting by William Holman Hunt a few months ago and they’re getting ready to sell a couple more items soon, including a painting by Winslow Homer and a sculpture by Alexander Calder. Their actions were censured by the Association of Art Museum Directors (a group that’s typically reluctant to criticize its members), but the Delaware Art Museum doesn’t care. In “Museum Under Fire for Selling Its Art,” Deborah Solomon of the New York Times provides the latest painful details.
This case study isn’t finished (and it’ll be a doozy), but we’re learning plenty of lessons already:
1. People visit museums and historic sites to have a great experience with the collections, not Continue reading