How COVID-19 is changing the Rules: Brooklyn Museum sells Works of Art at Auction

This was simply unimaginable a year ago. But at the end of 2020, the Brooklyn Museum decided to sell some work of arts, in order to maintain its collection, at a time where no money was coming in, due to COVID-19 restrictions. This would have outraged the community before, but now it’s just a logical step, as museums need to pay their bills, on order to survive.

The Damages Left behind by the Pandemic

The art world is not protected from the coronavirus, anymore than any other sector of the economy. In fact, its cultural aspect has been one of the most devastated of all, since regulations, in many countries, made it impossible to visit museums, at various times throughout last year, and in the beginning of 2021, as well. That doesn’t mean that sales of artworks have stopped. In fact, as we can confirm through the sale of these 12 pieces of art from the Brooklyn Museum, it created new opportunities for buyers, around the world. The Convelio, fine art shipping company, as continued to carry many works of arts around the world, to new owners, throughout the pandemic.

Deaccessioning: Selling off Works from a Museum

Deaccessioning is not a word we commonly use in our language. That’s because it rarely happens. In fact, in normal times, such an action would engender criticism. It could even be sanctioned, or the sale could be stopped. That’s because museum artworks are part of the world patrimony and selling them to individuals remove them from it, keeping them away from the view of those who would like to examine them.

Normally, the sale of any art work from a museum can be made only to buy new works. Therefore, that money cannot be used (as is the case here) in the maintenance of the museum. This rule was set by the Association of Art Museum Directors, to protect the art. But until April 10, 2022, museums having to sell pieces, to pay for expenses directly linked to the care of their collection, will not be fined by the Association.

The Brooklyn Museum is the first in the USA to take advantage of this unique situation, in order to continue its work. This problem, however, just grew bigger during the coronavirus, since the museum had monetary problems before that. Because it is not located on the regular touristic path of NYC, it doesn’t bring in as much revenue as the other museums in the area. The Brooklyn Museum’s management said that it is planning to build a $40 million fund, of which it will use $2 million per year, to care for the collection.

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