Institute of Museum Ethics
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, Seton Hall University’s MA Program in Museum Professions will be hosting a lecture by Graham W.J. Beal, Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Entitled “Not for Sale: The Fight to Save the Collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, ” the lecture will take place in the Lerner Amphitheatre of the Science and Technology Center from 7 – 8 PM. Generous funding has been provided by the Robert Lehman Foundation (Edwin L. Weisl Jr. Lectureship program).
Beal has been Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts since 1999. Before settling in Detroit he was the director at the Los Angeles County Museum and the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE. Originally from Stratford-on-Avon in the UK, he holds degrees from the University of Manchester and the Courtauld Institute of Art.
In his lecture, Beal will outline the precarious position of the Detroit Institute of Art during the city’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2013-14. Because the DIA and its collections, valued at $ 4.6 billion dollars, were owned by the city since 1919, the museum was told, in spring 2013, that it would have to contribute $400-500 million to help pay off Detroit’s debts, necessarily by selling works of art from its collections. Beal will talk about the ingenious way in which the museum not only avoided deaccessioning but also “ransomed the museum from city ownership” (NYT) by transferring control to an independent charitable trust. The fascinating rescue story of DIA blends art, museums, finance, local government and politics, and philanthropy. For art museums, is is a story of triumph and hope, as it shows that people cared enough to avoid the dismantling of one of the finest museums in the US.
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