For those not in the CAA (College Art Association) loop, I’ve just heard about an open letter to the “emergency manager” handling the Detroit crisis expressing opposition and deep concern to the Detroit situation. For those unaware of the Detroit Situation, this is the possibility of the city’s art collection being sold off to cover Detroit's debts.
Must admit when I got the news about this I felt sick at heart. I’ve expressed my own concern about the museum in the neoliberal era, the era of corporate finance- but this! As the article asks, “what next?”
I hope CAA, and indeed, other groups and voices add to the clamour expressing their dismay at what amounts to selling off the “family silver,”the culture and traditions of this great city. The collection is an extremely impressive one that includes Van Gogh, two works by Poussin, like the Roccatagliata Madonna shown here, and many more. Works like this should stay in the public domain, which is what museums are there for.
Here’s the letter.and here's a link to the letter on CAA's website.
An Open Letter to:
Mr. Kevyn Orr, Emergency Manager
City of Detroit
2 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48226
Dear Mr. Orr:
On behalf of the College Art Association that represents over 14,000 art historians, artists, curators, art educators and art conservators we express our shock and concern upon learning of the possible selling of the Detroit Institute of Arts collection to cover the city’s debts.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the greatest art museums in the country that represents the finest creative achievements throughout the history of the world. The DIA is not only a great treasure but one of the very few places in Detroit where all people can enjoy, contemplate and study art and its many related concepts. The DIA has developed itself as a public educational institution and has been a leader in the profession at engaging with all segments of the community.
The CAA adheres to the principal that public art museums are held in the public trust and as such are to be protected for the public good. It also supports the Alliance of Museums Code of Ethics and the Association of Art Museum Directors’ Policy on Deaccessioning that states that the sale of art museum collections to support operating expenses is unethical.
We appeal to your higher judgment in assessing the true value of the DIA and its critical role for the public good of the city, state, and the country in deliberating on the future of this great collection.
Anne Collins Goodyear