10.11.4 Deaccession (revised as of 2/26/14)
An institution’s collections occasionally may be strengthened by the wise and constructive deaccession of previously accessioned works of art. Deaccessioning is a legitimate part of the formation and care of collections and should only be done to refine and improve the quality and appropriateness of the UAC. Deaccesion decisions must be made with great thoughtfulness, care and prudence. Expressions of donor intent should always be considered in deaccession decisions and the interests and concerns of the different stakeholders, as well as the public, for whose benefit collections are maintained, must always be foremost in making deaccession decisions. UAC artworks may be deaccessioned for any of the following reasons:
- The object does not conform to the UAC Collection Development Policy.
- The authenticity or attribution of an object is found to be false or fraudulent and it lacks sufficient aesthetic merit or art historical importance to warrant retention. In deaccessioning or retaining a presumed forgery, the University Art Collection Committee shall consider all related ethical issues including the consequences of returning the work to the art market.
- The object duplicates or is essentially similar to other artworks in the UAC, but that object is not part of a series of related works.
- The physical condition of the object renders it no longer useful for the UAC’s Mission and/or the UAC is unable to adequately preserve the work because of the work’s particular requirements for storage or display, or because of its continuing need for special treatment.
The decision to deaccession artwork from the UAC requires the approval of the University Art
Collection Committee. Prior considerations including the following:
- Deaccessions leading to disposal by sale may be made only for the purposes of future acquisitions. Such deaccessions may be accomplished through sales or exchange or a combination of the two. If a work is sold, the net proceeds may be used to establish a UAC acquisitions endowment or expendable-fund account for future art acquisitions and/or commissioned works.
- Deaccessions should never be prompted by changes in taste, art-market fluctuations, or expressions of interest from institutional or individual collectors.
- Deaccessions must conform, whenever applicable, to the wishes of the donor(s) of the works or, if appropriate, donor restrictions governing funds with which the works were acquired.
- The determination of whether or not a given work of art should be deaccessioned may require consultations with outside experts or others including art historians, museum professionals, conservators, art dealers, or—in the case of works by living artists—those artists. In each instance, and especially if dealers, galleries, auction houses or any other entity that is a business primarily comprised of purchasing and selling art is consulted, such consultations must be documented so as to avoid the occurrence of, or appearance of, conflicts of interest.
- No member of the University Art Collection Committee, member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors, or Wayne State University staff may acquire a deaccessioned work by purchase or exchange.
- All preparations for and transactions associated with deaccessions must be fully documented and
accessible for public scrutiny to prevent the occurrence of, or appearance of, conflicts of interest
among any officials or others associated with the deaccession.
- After the UAC deaccessions a work, the UAC continues to remain responsible for preserving information collected in relation to the work—including information about its provenance, accession, display, publication, loan, preservation, and disposition—for future scholarly research. A record of this information should remain in UAC files and/or databases and the information should be made available for qualified scholars upon request.
- Pursuant to University Policy 04-1, the Wayne State University President has delegated to
the University Art Collection Committee the authority to deaccession works.
The following best-practice recommendations apply to approved deaccessions:
- In the case where a work of substantial value is to be deaccessioned for the purposes of direct sale (not by auction) or by exchange with another entity, the estimated value of the work should be determined prior to the ensuing transaction by a qualified third-party appraiser, i.e., an appraiser not affiliated with any of the entities participating in the sale or exchange. That estimate should be reported to the University Art Collection Committee prior to final deaccession approval.
- If a work to be deaccessioned was received from a donor who is still alive, the UAC Curator/Coordinator or a representative of the university will make every reasonable effort to notify the donor that the work is to be deaccessioned. Circumstances may warrant extending similar courtesy to the donor’s immediate heirs.
- If the work to be deaccessioned is by a living artist, or an artist whose immediate heirs or estate trustees retain interests in such works, the UAC Curator/Coordinator or representative should make every reasonable effort to contact the artist, immediate heirs, or estate trustees early in the deaccession planning. If the artist or artist’s heirs or estate trustees retain royalty rights associated with the work to be deaccessioned, the Curator/Coordinator must make every effort to comply with those rights.
- Plans to deaccession a work may, if appropriate, be reported to local and/or regional museums or other, comparable not-for-profit institutions to provide an opportunity for locally significant works to be retained in the Detroit metropolitan area or region.
- As appropriate, deaccessions being planned and/or completed will be reported on the UAC’s
Office of Risk Management