Skip to content

Clean House to Survive? Museums Confront Their Crowded Basements

Category: Collections Stewardship

The New York Times dives deep into the problem of swelling storage and the routes some museums are taking to address it, including the controversial practice of deaccessioning.

“It doesn’t benefit anyone when there are thousands, if not millions, of works of art that are languishing in storage,” said Glenn D. Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art. “There is a huge capital cost that has a drag on operations. But more importantly, we would be far better off allowing others to have those works of art who might enjoy them.”

—Robin Pogrebin

Fueled by philanthropic zeal, lucrative tax deductions and the prestige of seeing their works in esteemed settings, wealthy art owners have for decades given museums everything from their Rembrandts to their bedroom slippers. It all had to go somewhere.

Continue Reading at Nytimes

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
Log In

We're Sorry

Your current membership level does not allow you to access this content.

Upgrade Your Membership


1 Comment

  1. This article does a brilliant job of highlighting the fact that millions of artifacts, manuscripts, and artwork fill the collective storage rooms of countless museums across the globe. It’s a shame so much history and beauty is locked away for years with little hope to be shared. Even a more active borrowing scheme would help.

    As the director of a small museum, I would advocate for carefully freeing up those collections and creating more equity among the many smaller but no less important institutions often unable to finance or fortunate enough to receive more of a collection.

    I know one museum in Dayton willing to help lower your storage costs!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Field Notes!

Packed with stories and insights for museum people, Field Notes is delivered to your inbox every Monday. Once you've completed the form below, confirm your subscription in the email sent to you.

If you are a current AAM member, please sign-up using the email address associated with your account.

Are you a museum professional?

Are you a current AAM member?

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription, and please add to your safe sender list.