The Indianapolis Museum of Art
announced today that it has launched a searchable database of recently deaccessioned artworks on its website. The database includes information on works the museum has identified for sale and their valuations. The database includes works of art identified since late 2007, when the museum began a comprehensive review of its collection. This groundbreaking program is another step in the IMAs ongoing commitment to public access, openness and operational transparency. The database is available at www.imamuseum.org/explore/deaccessions
In the future, the database also will demonstrate how income from the deaccessioned artworks is used to acquire new works in each respective curatorial area of the IMA collection, using electronic links from deaccessioned works to new acquisitions.
This deaccessioning database is part of an ongoing initiative of the IMA to harness technology as a means of promoting museum transparency. The IMA was one of the first museums to make statistics available to the public in real time. The Museums web dashboard, available at dashboard.imamuseum.org, includes IMA key facts and figures such as attendance, fiscal performance, number of new works on view in the permanent collection, energy consumption and numerous other metrics of institutional performance.
In light of the recent economic downturn and the resulting financial strain experienced by museums, the topic of deaccessioning has become a front-burner issue, making institutional transparency more vital than ever, said Maxwell Anderson, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA. This searchable database will evolve to include information regarding how the IMA uses funds from deaccessioned works to enhance and shape the Museum collection.
The IMA program is based on Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) policy on deaccessions and adheres to its two fundamental principles:
The decision to deaccession is made solely to improve the quality, scope and appropriateness of the collection, and to support the mission and long-term goals of the museum;
Proceeds from a deaccessioned work are used only to acquire other works of artthe proceeds are never used as operating funds, to build a general endowment or for any other expenses.
The proceeds from these deaccessioned works will be dedicated to building the respective department collections. For example, proceeds from the sale of a sculpture from the American collection, Indian Hunter with Dog, Paul Manship, 1926, which was given to the Museum in 1929 by the group Friends of American Art, were applied to the recent purchase of a new sculpture for the American collection: Gamin, Augusta Savage, 1929. The IMAs collection includes another example of Indian Hunter with Dog. Proceeds from deaccessioned works will be used to reinvest in building a stronger IMA collection. IMAs Deaccession Policy is available online at www.imamuseum.org/explore/deaccessions
The Indianapolis Museum of Art has embarked on a systematic evaluation of its collection since 2007 to identify candidates for deaccessioning (e.g. sale, transfer or exchange). All objects proposed for deaccessioning are subject to the criteria and procedures outlined in the IMA's Deaccession Policy. Since 2007, the furniture,
antiquities, textiles, American painting, European painting and contemporary collections have been reviewed and assessed. The decorative arts, Asian art and African collections are currently under review with additional works proposed for deaccessioning to be presented for approval at the May and December 2009 Collections Committee and Board of Governors meetings.
As the IMA conducts its survey of the collection, unaccessioned objects in the collection will also be reviewed for possible deaccessioning. These objects will be advertised in The Indianapolis Star in accordance with the State of Indianas legislation governing abandoned cultural property in an effort to find the original owners and/or to gain clear title. After the required waiting period, all abandoned cultural property will either be accessioned or deaccessioned.