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ERIC Number: EJ771748
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jun-1
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Struggling Colleges Debate the Propriety of Selling Their Art
Strout, Erin
Chronicle of Higher Education, v53 n39 pA23 Jun 2007
Donors give art collections worth millions of dollars to colleges, mostly to be displayed in their art museums. But some financially strapped colleges have started looking at the art as a way of escaping their financial woes. Fisk University expects to make $16-million from the sale of two paintings, one by Georgia O'Keeffe and another by Marsden Hartley. Recently, Thomas Jefferson University made $68-million from selling "The Gross Clinic" by Thomas Eakins. Randolph-Macon Woman's College may be next. The college was put on warning by its accreditor in January because of its failure to show financial stability; college leaders are now pondering the sale of a collection of American works that some faculty and staff members, as well as students and alumnae, say should not be touched. As critics have questioned the ethics of the completed sales and consider the situation at Randolph-Macon, tension rises. Although no sale has been announced, Laura Katzman resigned her tenured faculty position and the directorship of the museum-studies program because she says any sale that raises funds for the institution's operating budget would violate the code of ethics of her profession. Selling art is problematic for members of the American Association of Museums, which sets strict guidelines regarding the sale of artwork. The funds gained from the sales of art from a museum are to be used only to strengthen the collection, not for the operating budget of the institution. Violating those guidelines, Ms. Katzman says, can jeopardize the institution's reputation as a place that takes care of donated or borrowed works. Suzanne Fabing, former director of the Smith College Museum of Art, says that as more higher-education institutions consider using their art collections as revenue, donors will begin taking their valuable works elsewhere. So far, art sales at a few colleges have not stopped donor generosity. However, as Ms. Fabing points out, "If art collections are going to be looked at as a monetary asset ... It's a conversation that colleges should have with donors before they accept art from them."
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia