Contrary to the outcry in the media this week, the New York State Board of Regents' decision on Tuesday to allow the deaccessioning "emergency" regulations to expire on October 8 is not going to result in the monetization of museum collections. The temporary regulations, in effect since December 2008, enjoined museum sales of collection artworks to cover operating costs and the Board of Regents had been expected to make the rule permanent, partly as a result of the Brodsky Bill (which outlawed such sales) collapsing in the state Legislature.
The news may have come as a surprise but the impact of the decision on deaccessioning practices is likely to be minimal (i.e. no mass exodus of art from "public trust to private hands"). This is because the existing regulations already stated that museums may only use the proceeds derived from deaccessioning "for the acquisition, preservation, protection or care of collections" and explicitly "in no event shall proceeds be used for operating expenses..." To be fair, the emergency regulations did restrict museums' options to sell collection pieces more sharply but as Donn Zaretsky posted, the existing regulations follow the deaccessioning guidelines of the American Association of Museums ("AAM") and the Association of Art Museum Directors ("AAMD") which the vast majority of people consider to be adequate deaccessioning policies.