Museum Bill Dies

A bill that would prohibit New York museums from selling pieces of their art collections has been shot down in the New York State Legislature. The bill, proposed by the New York Board of Regents and the Museum Association of New York, intended to ban the practice of "deaccessioning"—selling artworks to acquire other works of art or pay expenses. After much protest from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the withdrawal of the bill’s Senate sponsor, José M. Serrano, it seems dead in the water. “We all saw that a one-size-fits-all approach was not going to work,” said Serrano. “I didn’t think that we would be able to make wholesale changes to the bill that would make it palatable for everyone.” In particular, Serrano opposed the inclusion of zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums, and libraries in the bill. Most institutions, however, supported the bill—namely the Museum Association, which represents 360 New York cultural groups and individuals. “If we don’t act here, the bean counters will triumph,” said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, who led the drafting of the bill, “and we’ll see huge amounts of public art privatized.”