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CAA News

In the past week, numerous art and museum associations, advocacy groups, nonprofit and commercial galleries, art critics, and newspapers have spoken out against the removal of an artwork by David Wojnarowicz that was on view in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. CAA is compiling a list of organizations, companies, and people who have published official statements, editorials, and letters to the editor.


Critics, Journalists, Scholars, and Curators

Museums and Galleries

Press and Publishing

Social Networking and Web Resources

The above list will be cumulative. If you would like to send CAA a link to an official or organizational statement, please write to Christopher Howard, CAA managing editor.

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts produces a curated list, called CWA Picks, of recommended exhibitions and events related to feminist art and scholarship from North America and around the world.

The CWA Picks for September 2010 include “Heritage and Hope,” an international symposium on women in higher education, with a focus on the global, to be held at Bryn Mawr College from September 23 to 25. Four special exhibitions on view this month—featuring women Pop artists, the photographer Catherine Opie, female artists from the Hudson River School, and women’s contributions to Fluxus—round out the selections for this month.

Check out past CWA Picks archived at the bottom of the page, as exhibitions highlighted in previous months are often still on view.

Rose Art Museum to Lease Works from Its Collection

posted by Christopher Howard

The latest development at Brandeis University, which early last year decided to close the Rose Art Museum and sell its prized collection of modern art, is to lease works from its collections through a partnership with the auction house Sotheby’s. Selling works from the museum to alleviate the school’s recession-shattered endowment, critics say, is not off the table. The Rose collection ranges from classics by Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg to more recent works by Dana Schutz, whose first museum exhibition was held at the Rose in 2006.

“The talks between Sotheby’s and Brandeis started a year ago,” writes Ellen Howards of the Boston Herald, but school officials cannot “predict which institutions might lease the art, which works could be made available or what sum a leasing deal would generate.”

A Boston Globe editorial proclaims that “Brandeis should only lend to institutions capable of caring for its artworks. And it should use any revenues to guarantee a future for the Rose.” In a bold statement, the paper also suggests that the university “deserves praise, not criticism, for trying to raise revenue through its collection.”

Geoff Edgars, also of the Boston Globe, offers recent precedents for the Rose’s controversial move: the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta have all rented artworks to other museums and institutions.

In addition, last week Brandeis announced the hiring of a new president, Frederick M. Lawrence, dean of George Washington University Law School. He will fill the position to be vacated by Jehuda Reinharz, who was responsible for the ill-fated idea to close the museum and sell its art, in January 2011.

Academic Museum and Gallery Organization Changes Its Name

posted by Christopher Howard

The Association of College and University Museums and Galleries (ACUMG), a CAA affiliated society, has changed its name to the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG). The organization has also strengthened its mission to better reflect its role as the leading educational and professional organization for museums and galleries affiliated with academic institutions.

The formal name change, which more closely links AAMG to its affiliate organization, the American Association of Museums (AAM), took place at AAMG’s annual business meeting in Los Angeles on May 24, 2010. At the same meeting AAMG revised its by-laws and invigorated its mission as a resource for college and university museums of all disciplines, including art, history, anthropology, natural history, and science.

Organized in 1980, the association has a growing membership of more than four hundred of the nation’s estimated 1,150 academic museums and galleries. AAMG addresses such issues as governance, ethics, collections management, educational outreach, exhibitions, strategic planning, and financial management. Along with CAA, it has been in the forefront of the movement to safeguard college and university collections, advocating against the sale of donated artworks and the closure of art museums by institutions of higher education.

AAMG sponsors national conferences at prominent academic museums in conjunction with annual AAM meetings. Its May 22 conference took place at the Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Accreditation Commission of the American Association of Museums (AAM) approved revisions to its 2005 policy “Statements of Support from Parent Organizations” at its March 2010 meeting.

Why Did It Change?

The impetus was a request from a task force formed in 2009, which included Linda Downs, CAA executive director, to focus on the issue of protecting academic collections. The Task Force on University and College Museums, of which AAM is a member, was organized in response to the disturbing trend of selling collections from academic museums as a short-sighted response to the current economic downturn (e.g., the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, the Maier Museum at Randolph College, and the Fisk University Galleries). Of course, the threat of a parent organization treating collections as disposable assets, or the undervaluing of the museum and its collections as essential intellectual and educational resources, is not limited to college and university museums.

The purpose of the policy since it debuted in 2005 is to give the Accreditation Commission some assurance of the sustainability and longevity of an institution that is not autonomous. Museums, in turn, have found that the commission’s policy—and the conversations that surround the need to secure the appropriate documentation—helps strengthen their presence and articulate their essential role within their parent organization. The policy also serves as an opportunity to educate the parent organization’s leadership about museum standards and ethics. The expanded language in the document will support museums in this regard as well as offer to them greater protection from threats to their tangible and intangible assets held in the public trust.

What Changed?

To whom the policy applies (see below) and the basic requirement of evidence of support did not change. The Accreditation Commission added new language to the policy emphasizing:

  • the role, value, and use of collections
  • ethics and standards regarding collections
  • specific language that stresses that a museum’s collections should not be considered as disposable assets by a parent organization

When you access the policy online, you will see the new language indicated in red.

Is My Museum Affected?

The policy may not apply to your museum, but it is important for you to know about the nature of the changes.

The policy applies to your museum if it operates within a larger parent organization, such as: college or university; tribal, municipal, state, or federal government; state historical society supervising multiple sites; corporate foundation, etc. A museum that has a parent organization relies on that parent for some or all of its human, physical, and/or financial resources. Approximately 37 percent of all accredited museums operate within a parent organization. Over 40 percent of this subgroup is part of a college or university.


If you have any questions or comments about the new policy and how it affects your museum, please contact the Accreditation Program staff.


Bonnie Styles
Director, Illinois State Museum and Accreditation Commission Chair

William Eiland
Director, Georgia Museum of Art, Accreditation Commissioner, and Member of the Task Force on University and College Museums

Julie Hart
Senior Director of Museum Standards and Excellence, American Association of Museums

May 17 Update: Lee Rosenbaum reported on the “Statements of Support from Parent Organizations” in her ArtsJournal blog, Culturegrrl.

Our three federal cultural agencies—the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—are in danger of underfunding for fiscal year 2011.

As the economic downturn places increasing pressure on arts and educational institutions throughout the country, now is the time to increase, not diminish, federal investment in the arts and humanities through the NEA, NEH, and IMLS. Read on to find out how you can help.

Ask Your Senator to Commit to Increasing NEH Funding

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) is circulating a “Dear Colleague Letter” in support of increased funding for the NEH. The letter asks for $232.5 million for the endowment, a $65 million increase above what it received last year, and $71.2 million more that what President Barack Obama has requested for fiscal year 2011.

The deadline for senators to sign onto this letter has been extended to Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Please write your senators today, using online advocacy tools from the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), and ask them to demonstrate their support for the humanities by adding their signature to this letter. You can also contact your senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

The sign-on letter, addressed to Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HA) and Vice Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS), and to Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), is available on the NHA website.

Support a Budget Increase for the NEA

President Obama suggested a decrease of $6.4 million for the NEA when he proposed his 2011 federal budget. Rather than allocate $161.3 million to the NEA, CAA urges you to contact your legislators to request $180 million for the agency for the next fiscal year.

Since the 1960s, the NEA has assisted artists and organizations in the visual arts, dance, design, music, opera, theater, and more. It has also supported crucial CAA programs, including a $20,000 grant to fund ARTspace at the 2010 Annual Conference in Chicago, and a stimulus grant of $50,000 to save a key staff position.

Help the IMLS Continue Giving Grants to Museums and Libraries

A federal agency that supports all kinds of museums and libraries nationwide, the IMLS received $282.2 million in fiscal year 2010, but now faces a $16.7 million drop in funding. The IMLS’s Office of Museum Services is currently funded at $35.2 million, and the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) have joined the NHA to advocate $50 million for the office. Download the AAM issue brief or visit the NHA website to read more about IMLS funding.

The Center for Curatorial Leadership is conducting a research project that seeks basic information on the educational and career choices made by art historians working in the United States who enter the museum and academic professions.

While sometimes regarded as “the two art histories,” museum and academic careers share a common starting point in college and graduate studies. In order to understand how the Center for Curatorial Leadership might mentor young art historians and form bonds between disciplines more effectively, it has assembled a brief survey. Comments and any suggestions are welcome as well.

The survey should take approximately ten minutes to complete. Deadline: Monday, April 19, 2010.

In response to Museums Advocacy Day, held on March 22–23, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to encourage her fellow senators to ask the Senate Appropriations Committee for $50 million in funding for the Office of Museum Services, a branch of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The amount requested for fiscal year 2011 is a $14.8 million increase over the current fiscal year. Gillibrand’s letter is similar to a separate effort in the House of Representatives, supported by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

The American Association of Museums (AAM) has prepared a form letter that you may use to send an urgent message to your senators. Use the online fields to enter your contact information, which will then select your senator’s name and address. You can then download (as an .rtf) and print the letter to mail or fax, or choose the email option to send your letter right away. You can edit and personalize your missive before sending.

Museums Advocacy Day Takes Place in March

posted by Linda Downs

The American Association of Museums (AAM) is organizing Museums Advocacy Day 2010, taking place March 22–23 in Washington, DC, and CAA invites your participation. This event is your chance to receive advocacy and policy training and then take the case to Capitol Hill alongside fellow advocates from your state and congressional district.

AAM is working with sponsoring organizations, which include CAA, to develop the legislative agenda for this year’s event. Likely issues will include federal funding for museums, museums and federal education policy, and charitable giving issues affecting museums.

The entire museum field is welcome to participate: staff, volunteers, trustees, students, or even museum enthusiasts. Museums Advocacy Day is the ideal chance for new and seasoned advocates to network with museum professionals from their state and meet with congressional offices.


Individual museum professionals, supporters, and trustees may register online. National, regional, and state organizations that would like to register as partnering organizations and individuals who prefer to complete a paper registration may use the Museums Advocacy Day 2010 Registration Form.

Participants are asked to cover the cost of their meals and materials: $75. This amount includes: two breakfasts, one lunch, one evening reception, and all training materials and supplies. Deadline: February 17, 2010.

The event hotel is the Doubletree Hotel Crystal City, 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202. The Museums Advocacy Day rate is $209, available until February 15 or until sold out. Call 800-222-TREE and reference Museums Advocacy Day or the three-letter reservation code AVD, or reserve a room online and used the group code AVD.

Tentative Schedule

March 22 will be a critical day of advocacy and policy training, to be held at the National Building Museum, featuring:

  • A briefing on the museum field’s legislative agenda
  • Tips on meeting with elected officials and the stats you need to make your case
  • Instruction on how to participate in year-round advocacy and engage your elected officials in the ongoing work of your museum
  • Networking with advocates from your state on the following day’s Capitol Hill visits
  • An evening reception, with members of Congress and staff invited

On March 23, we will take our message to Capitol Hill. Advocates will gather in groups by state and congressional districts to make coordinated visits to House and Senate offices to make the case for increased federal support for museums.

Today in Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik reports on recent work of a task force, comprising representatives from seven national and international organizations, that is raising awareness of the value of university and college art museums and galleries in light of recent events involving attempts by schools to sell work from their collections.

In “Avoiding the Next Brandeis,” Jaschik talks to the task-force cochair David Alan Robertson, director of Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, who is “trying to impress upon [regional higher-education accrediting agencies] that museums shouldn’t be viewed as extras, but as ‘teaching institutions and research institutions.’” Jaschik continues, “Another strategy being discussed is encouraging colleges to define the financial exigency plans—or what they would do in a severe financial crisis—and to make the case that museums should not be the first institutions to be closed.”

Lyndel King, task-force cochair and director and chief curator of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, tells the reporter that “we need to educate college administrators and governing boards that disposing of their collections can’t be a way to fill the coffers or seen as an easy way to bring in money.”

The task force comprises representatives from CAA, the American Association of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries, the International Council of Museums, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the Association of Art Museum Curators. The next meeting of the task force will take place on January 9, 2010, in Sarasota, Florida, in conjunction with the midwinter gathering of the Association of Art Museum Directors.

You may read the petition, published by the task force in July 2009, and include your name and affiliation in the growing list of signatories. A prominent advertisement will appear in the Chronicle for Higher Education later this month; you can download a PDF of it or click and save the above image for use in blogs, press, and more. The task force had planned to include all signatories in the ad, but the list has exceeded 2,200 names and institutional affiliations—too many to include in print.

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