On Tuesday, February 24, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) held the seventh annual Museums Advocacy Day, in which representatives from all types of museums and arts organizations from across the country meet with congressional representatives to promote museums’ contributions to society and to discuss specific initiatives affecting their impact. This year, CAA sponsored a Museum Committee member to attend the event, so I was able to join fellow museum professionals in this important and surprisingly fun activity.
Monday, February 23, was dedicated to all-day training, which included presentations on the three main initiatives that we were to focus on during our discussions on Capitol Hill, as well as a panel Q&A with representatives from several federal funding agencies, including the usual “alphabet soup” of the NEA, NEH, IMLS, NSF, and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs from the US State Department. The main takeaway from that discussion was to always contact these federal agencies when applying for a grant or program, as their staffs are there to help you through the process. Another activity was a fantastic presentation on the “Art of the Ask” by Dan Yaeger, executive director of the New England Museum Association. As a lobbying newbie, I attended a talk by Stephanie Vance (a.k.a. the Advocacy Guru) on the nuts and bolts of lobbying on the Hill. Helpful tips included:
- Be respectful to everyone you meet, even if it’s a twenty-one-year-old staff member and not your congressperson. These staff members truly affect how the representatives work and vote
- Prepare an elevator speech and connect it to the representative’s personal interests or platform
- If you have an appointment with a congressperson whose views you oppose personally, remember that when they meet with you, you are at the very least taking up their valuable time (an amusing and helpful tip!)
The afternoon consisted of reviewing the main issues that AAM was emphasizing this year:
- Supporting fully authorized funding of $38.6 million in fiscal year 2016 for the IMLS’s Office of Museum Services
- Opposing any proposals that would limit the scope or value of the tax deduction for charitable donations
- Supporting the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which would allow artists to claim a tax deduction of the fair market value of their work when donated to a charity
- Supporting partnerships between museums and schools
- Allowing museums be to eligible to compete for funding as part of a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act
AAM’s staff and presenters assured us that we need not be experts on these subjects but rather should use our congressional meetings to offer personal stories that demonstrate how museums are vital to the fabric of society and explain how the issues stated above will help museums continue this good work.
On Tuesday, we were fed a great breakfast, then all broke up to attend appointments that AAM set up for us across the Hill. I attended these meetings representing both CAA and my own institution in Virginia, so I met with Senator Tim Kaine (VA), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Representative Louise Slaughter (NY), Representative Bobby Scott (VA), and Representative David Brat (VA).
I was with a group of about ten to fifteen fellow museum and arts folks for the first two appointments, and for the last three I was one of only two or three people. In addition to the issues mentioned above, I was able to talk about my museum, about university museums in general, and, of course, about CAA, including the recently issued fair-use guidelines. In general, the congressional staffers I met were gracious and knowledgeable—and I even got a photo op with a representative for my Facebook page. I was surprised and terribly grateful by how well AAM organized the event, how well they prepared us for the meetings, and how kind all the staff on the Hill were.
One of the things AAM pushed during training was that advocacy should continue beyond just that day, so I sent thank-you notes later that week. I’ve also been in touch with the two House Representative offices in Virginia to invite the congressmen and their staffs to visit our museums. Finally, my fellow advocates and I offered ourselves as resources on issues related to museums and the arts. All in all, Museums Advocacy Day was a fantastic experience to see and engage Congress in person, to meet colleagues with shared interests, and to spread the good word about museums and CAA.
CAA abhors the senseless destruction of ancient Assyrian sculpture that was publicized today. The Assyrians created sophisticated monumental sculpture that reflected their unique form of government, fostered urban development projects of palaces, temples and markets, built a prosperous economy and promoted reading and writing in cuneiform. The monumental works from this extraordinary ancient civilization had been preserved for over 2,500 years in one of the most important collections of Middle Eastern art, the Mosul Museum. CAA calls upon the Iraq and United States government as well as the ICOMOS, the World Monuments Fund and other international organizations to adhere to Hague Convention (1954), in concert with the public and the scholarly community, to develop and implement programs to protect ancient sites, monuments, antiquities, and cultural institutions in the case of war.
DeWitt Godfrey, CAA President
Linda Downs, Executive Director
posted by Christopher Howard — February 17, 2015
In a letter sent to Linda Downs and DeWitt Godfrey on February 9, 2015, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) expressed its support of CAA’s newly published Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts.
Christine Anagnos, AAMD executive director, and Susan Taylor, AAMD president and Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of the New Orleans Museum of Art in Louisinan, write: “AAMD believes the code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts is an excellent contribution to the field and a great point of departure for best practices in the fair use of copyrighted materials. We are thankful to those who helped to develop the guide over the past two years and recognize the hard work of Peter Jaszi and Patricia Aufderheide.”
CAA endorses the Association of Art Museum Directors sanction against the Delaware Art Museum for selling an object from their permanent collection to address financial challenges. The work in question is William Holman Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil (1868) sold at Christie’s this week for a final hammer price of $4.25 million, half the amount estimated.
The sanction will result in the Delaware Art Museum not receiving loans of works of art from the AAMD member museums: http://galleristny.com/2014/06/aamd-sanctions-delaware-art-museum/. This sale is unethical and a breach of fiduciary responsibility according to the collection policies of Association of American Museums, AAMD and CAA. Museum collections are held in the public trust, and proceeds of sales of works from permanent collections are to be used for future growth of collections.
Image: William Holman Hunt, Isabella and the Pot of Basil, 1868, oil on canvas, 74 x 46 in. (artwork in the public domain)
posted by CAA — March 26, 2014
The American Alliance of Museums sent the following email on March 25, 2014.
Office of Museum Services Funding Letters–Deadlines Extended to Friday, March 28
Important Update: The deadlines for legislators to sign the Tonko/Lance/Slaughter/Grimm and Gillibrand/Blunt Office of Museum Services appropriations letters have been extended until THIS FRIDAY, MARCH 28. We need to redouble our efforts in the next few days to make sure every Representative and Senator hears from the museums they represent, asking them to sign on to these important funding letters.
As we have shared in recent Alliance Advocacy Alerts, these six champions are circulating letters among their colleagues in the House and Senate in support of funding for museums nationwide through the Office of Museum Services (OMS) at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Current HOUSE Letter Signers: Tonko (NY), Lance (NJ), Slaughter (NY), Grimm (NY), Titus (NV), Yarmuth (KY), Pocan (WI), Sablan (MP), McGovern (MA), Ruppersberger (MD), Levin (MI), Tsongas (MA), Clarke (NY), Danny Davis (IL), Hastings (FL), Schneider (IL), Neal (MA), Lofgren (CA), Blumenauer (OR), Pingree (ME), Michaud (ME), Tierney (MA), Braley (IA), McNerney (CA), Norton (DC), Rangel (NY), Cicilline (RI), Christensen (VI), Langevin (RI), Swalwell (CA), Shea-Porter (NH), McCollum (MN), Holt (NJ), Deutch (FL), Moran (VA), Grijalva (AZ), Wilson (FL), Luján (NM), Bonamici (OR), Gutierrez (IL), Higgins (NY), Lipinski (IL), Matsui (CA), Loretta Sanchez (CA), McKinley (WV), Courtney (CT), Cummings (MD), Carson (IN), McDermott (WA), Beatty (OH), Schakowsky (IL), Doggett (TX), Hinojosa (AZ), Gabbard (HI), Clay (MO), Bishop (NY), Connolly (VA), Nadler (NY), Castor (FL), Ellison (MN), Pascrell (NJ), Johnson (GA), Kuster (NH), Capps (CA), Dingell (MI), Linda Sanchez (CA) and Payne (NJ)
Current SENATE Letter Signers: Gillibrand (NY), Blunt (MO), Hirono (HI), Coons (DE), Leahy (VT), Blumenthal (CT), Stabenow (MI), Schumer (NY), Johnson (SD), King (ME), Cardin (MD), Sanders (VT) and Heinrich (NM)
If any of your legislators are NOT yet on these lists, please contact your Representative and Senators TODAY and ask them to please sign the letter supporting museum funding through the Office of Museum Services. You can use our Legislator Look-Up to identify your Representative and Senators.
If they have already signed on, please say THANK YOU.
You can call the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected to your legislators’ offices.
You can also thank them on Facebook and Twitter, and find your legislators’ Facebook pages and Twitter handles in their profiles in our online Directory.
Thank you for taking action on this important, and time-sensitive, issue!
posted by CAA — March 20, 2014
The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) sent the following email on March 19, 2014
Senate Museum Funding Push is Now Bipartisan; Tell Your Senators to Join the Effort
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) are now circulating a bipartisan letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide robust funding in FY 2015 for the Office of Museum Services (OMS) at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This is the fifth year that Senator Gillibrand has led this effort, but the first time Senator Blunt will co-lead the letter.
The deadline for Senators to sign on to this letter is March 25, 2014.
The Office of Museum Services is receiving $30.1 million this year, well below its authorized level of $38.6 million. The Gillibrand/Blunt letter is your Senators’ chance to go on record in support of museum funding, so ask them to sign on today!
“Following visits from his constituents during Museums Advocacy Day, Senator Blunt decided to co-lead this letter with Senator Gillibrand, making it a bipartisan effort and demonstrating the value of our field-wide efforts in Washington, D.C.,” said Alliance President Ford W. Bell. “I applaud Senators Gillibrand and Blunt for their leadership in supporting museums nationwide. We are especially thrilled that Senator Blunt has joined the cause this year; museums in Missouri should be proud to have such a responsive museum champion in Congress.”
Last year, you contacted legislators in record numbers and you made a real difference: a record-breaking number of Senators signed the letter supporting funding for the IMLS Office of Museum Services. Keep that momentum going by contacting your Senators now.
Thank you for acting on this important issue!
The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) will cosponsor two provenance workshops this spring: one in Seattle, Washington, and another in Washington, DC.
This workshop will be held on May 18, 2014, in conjunction with the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries’s annual conference in Seattle. The workshop will review best practices for conducting provenance research in art museums, with a focus on Nazi-era provenance, as well as issues pertaining to antiquities and cultural property. The session is geared to all levels of experience and can serve as a how-to and a refresher. The workshop leaders will discuss due diligence and the acquisition process, online research tools, and the handling of restitution claims. The workshop is limited to fifty participants; ample time will be allotted for Q&A.
Victoria Reed, curator for provenance at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Nancy H. Yeide, head of the Department of Curatorial Records at the National Gallery of Art, will conduct the half-day workshop, which will be held at the Hotel Deca in Seattle. Each participant will receive a copy of Yeide’s book Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: The Hermann Goering Collection (2009), which is the first biography to focus on Hermann Goering’s personal collection and provides the first opportunity since the war to look at the collection as a whole and evaluate its place within art collecting and politics. This carefully documented volume is critical to the clarification of provenances of the objects featured and brings to light pictures whose histories and whereabouts have been hidden for decades.
Registration is available at www.aamg-us.org/registration; scroll down to “Sunday Morning Workshops.”
In cooperation with the National Archives and Records Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Alliance of Museums, AAMD will sponsor a workshop for advanced researchers following the success of a two-day, Nazi-era provenance seminar that was held in 2011. Taking place at the National Archives on June 17, 2014, this workshop is limited to thirty participants who are experienced researchers working in museums. The event will provide a hands-on workshop on using new and updated online provenance research resources. Registration will include a copy of Holocaust-Era Assets, a Finding Aid to Records at the National Archives at College Park.
Nancy H. Yeide, head of the Department of Curatorial Records at the National Gallery of Art, and Chris Naylor, director of textual records for the National Archives, will lead the one-day workshop, which will be accompanied by an introduction to new materials at the Archives of American Art led by Marisa Bourgoin, chief of reference services for the Archives of American Art, and Laurie Stein, senior provenance advisor for the Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative.
The cosponsors for the DC seminar express grateful appreciation to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation for support to defray expenses for workshop participants.
To apply for registration go and to learn more about Kress grants, visit the AAMD website.
posted by CAA — February 10, 2014
The College Art Association endorses the deaccessioning policies of the American Association of Museums and Association of Art Museum Directors. These mandate that once a museum approves the serious step of a sale of works from its holdings, those proceeds be put toward the collection and not toward institutional operating costs. The recent sale of the George Bellows painting Men of the Docks from the Maier Museum at Randolph College violates these principles. CAA supports the AAMD censure of the Maier Museum at Randolph College and expresses its regret that Randolph College has compromised the educational and cultural mission of the museum by treating its collection as a fungible asset rather than as a vital part of the institution’s artistic heritage, held in trust for its students and the community.
posted by CAA — November 01, 2013
Furthermore and Joan K. Davidson, the grants in publishing program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund is pleased to present the inaugural Alice award to the Brooklyn Museum for Youth and Beauty Art of the American Twenties, edited by Teresa A. Carbone and published by Skira Rizzoli Publishing. Awarded in honor of Alice M. Kaplan, the prize recognizes this book’s fresh approach to and keen analysis of its subject and for its general excellence. The Alice was presented to the Brooklyn Museum on October 29, 2013, at the Morgan Library and Museum.
The jury comprised: Paula Cooper of Paula Cooper Gallery; William M. Griswold, director of the Morgan Library and Museum; Gianfranco Monacelli, publisher of Monacelli Press; Jock Reynolds, director of the Yale University Art Gallery; and Massimo Vignelli of Vignelli Associates.
The Alice was established in 2013 by Joan K. Davidson, president of Furthermore, to honor her mother, Alice Manheim Kaplan. Alice loved and collected the illustrated book as a work of art in itself and an essential document of a civilized society. This new award is intended to buttress the kind of slow reading movement that recognizes and cherishes the lasting values of the well-made illustrated book, and the special sense of intimacy it affords. In the fast-changing publishing universe, with its ever rising costs, the continuing life of high-quality printed books will depend upon the determined commitment of writers, editors, designers, and publishers, and their friends. The Alice is dedicated to that heroic commitment and the accomplished books that result from it.
The launching of the award also marks Furthermore’s record so far of financial assistance to some one thousand publications, for a total of $5 million. The Alice carries an award of $25,000. Each year a jury of leaders in publishing and the arts will select the Alice book from the hundreds of eligible titles that have been honored with a grant from Furthermore.
Furthermore grants in publishing is a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund that supports the publication of significant visual books—and will help to keep them coming in the years ahead. For information on the Alice, please contact Elizabeth Howard at 917-692-8588.
posted by Linda Downs — October 29, 2013
The panel discussion on the sale of the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) presented on October 24th in New York City and organized by the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) raised many of the issues that characteristically surround a major art museum situated and owned by an economically ailing major city: economic necessity and the economic divide; the professional responsibilities of the state, the city, and the museum staff and board; the test of the concept of works of art held in the public trust; the politics of a Republican governor and a liberal African American city; moral responsibilities of museums and their communities; the nature of the intent of art donors and the future of gifts to museums; and the expectation that major donors and foundations should solve the city’s bankrupt state. The speakers were Graham Beal, Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts; Sam Sachs, former director of the Detroit Institute of Arts and President of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation; Frank Robinson, retired Director, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University; and Richard Levin, Partner & Head of Restructuring Practice, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.
The DIA has become the central issue in the media of the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy. The museum’s rocky economic history with the city and the state was presented by past director Sam Sachs. The museum was founded in 1885 by a group of private citizens called the Founders Society. As early as 1919 the Founders merged with the City by ceding the collections in return for city-supported maintenance. Over the years the city support decreased and the Founders sought assistance from the state. That support reached a high point of $17 million in 1985. By 1991 the state support was cut in half. In 1997 the museum was reprivatized so that the city retained the collections that were supported through city funds but most other support was provided by the Founders Society.
The irony of this present controversy is that the DIA has never been in better fiscal shape nor has its audience, thanks to new educational initiatives, been so diverse. The DIA raised $360 million in the past few years and in 2012 three suburban counties adjacent to Detroit approved a tax to support the operating costs of the museum for the next 10 years. However, the counties have already publicly stated that they would withdraw this support if the DIA’s collection is sold. According to Beal, this would essentially cause the closure of the museum.
The museum director, board members, administrative staff and lawyer have been prevented from meeting with the governor, the emergency manager or the attorney general of Michigan, who has already issued the decision that the DIA is a public trust and cannot be sold. A proposal to shift the ownership of the DIA from the city to the state has been blocked by the state legislature. Thus, the DIA leaders have been, as Beal said, “treated with disdain” by those in political power and have had to rely on the media and hearsay for information. The only contact they have had with the emergency manager’s office was his request for an inventory of the collections. When the DIA complied with a 1,640-page list of objects in the collection (using 10-point type and single-spaced formatting) the emergency manager’s office realized the complexity of the issue.
The DIA legal counsel, Richard Levin, made it clear that, according to municipal bankruptcy law, the state, not the federal government, has authority. In this case, the governor of Michigan appointed an emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, to oversee the city’s finances; he is the sole decision-maker on the preparation of a plan to sell assets, pay creditors and bring the city back to solvency. The current court case in the Eastern District Court of Michigan that was brought by the unions and pension fund managers questions the validity of declaring bankruptcy in the first place. The governor, attorney general and emergency manager will be called to testify. Levin emphasized that municipal bankruptcy proceedings usually go into settlements and that the settlements take so long that, “the patient usually dies on the operating table,” and as Beal stated, “a dead DIA is exactly the opposite of putting the city back on a good course.” The Oakland County manager, Brooks Patterson, told Beal that in order to attract corporations and investors to their county in competition with other major cities like Boston and Chicago, he talks about the one asset that downtown has, which is the DIA.
In the meantime, Christie’s appraisers continue to assign dollar values to works of art at the DIA. Their work will be completed soon. The accuracy of their valuation was questioned by an audience member, given the fact that many of the masterworks have not changed hands in many generations and there are no comparable figures to rely on. And the concept of a swift auction of hundreds, if not thousands, of works of art is unrealistic. Ultimately, the proceeds from such a sale would satisfy only a small percentage of the city’s debt.
Audience members asked what they could do to assist the situation. The petition that originated with Jeffrey Hamburger at Harvard University still is being circulated and IFAR asked that people sign it. CAA has circulated this electronic petition to members and it remains on the CAA website for those interested in signing it. Beal would prefer to absent the DIA from the center of this controversy since there are several other possibilities of relieving the city’s debt. The last rumor that Beal heard was that the emergency manager has taken the collections off the bankruptcy table. Meanwhile the work of a great museum continues.
Graham W. J. Beal, director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, wrote that Gene Gargaro, the DIA’s chair of the board, has had three meetings with the emergency manager’s lawyer and the restructuring specialist. The first meeting was with Gargaro alone, the second with Beal and the museum’s top attorney, and the third with the DIA’s chief operating officer, top lawyer, and bankruptcy adviser (panelist Rich Levin). The tenor of the meetings was driven by the emergency manager’s people’s persistent demand that DIA come up with about $500 million.