When it is close to one year from the day the Metropolitan Museum of New York (Met) was forced to close its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, the institution has confirmed that it is considering selling some of its works in order to stay afloat.
In a virtual conference in which the museum reflected on the hard blow inflicted by the coronavirus and spoke about its future, the director of the Met, Max Hollein, assured that the “de-acquisition” of works is being considered – the formal term used for refer to the sale of parts- for support your “budget and your staff during this unprecedented crisis”. Hollein, however, stressed that, if carried out, “it would be a very temporary measure”, and pointed out that the institution has spent “years and decades” disposing of works to buy others.
The difference is that this time the money collected would not only be reinvested to continue expanding its collection, but could also be used to, for example, pay the salaries of its employees, thanks to a temporary relaxation of the rules in this sense of the Association Directors of Art Museums (AAMD), an organization that regulates the activities of these US cultural institutions “At this time, it is important to underline that we have been ‘de-acquiring’ works for decades, and that we have a very robust and very professional ‘de-acquisition’ practice“insisted the director of the Met.
The temporary change in AAMD regulations is intended to help museums that are in financial difficulties and responds to the fact that around 30% of museums in the US have not been able to reopen their doors after provoked closures for the pandemic.
The Met, the largest museum in the country, affirms that the pandemic, which has hit the art gallery just as it was celebrating its 150th anniversary (for which it had prepared important events and exhibitions), has caused a loss of revenue of $ 150 million in about 18 months. “We closed on March 13 with the idea at that time that we would close a few weeks to allow society to find its way in the pandemic. We imagine it would be a few weeks and that everything would be fine, but of course it was not like that,” he recalled for his part, the president of the Met, Daniel Weiss.
Weiss stressed that the museum has already been through other hard times, such as the 1918 pandemic, the Great Depression, two world wars and the 9/11 terrorist attack, but it has never experienced a year as hard as 2020. “We have had to develop a plan to protect the institution economically to overcome this problem, and at the same time ensure that we are going to be a strong and healthy institution in the coming years once we overcome the pandemic, “Weiss insisted.
The Met also wanted to highlight on its website that, with a view to the 150th anniversary celebrations, the museum had acquired 2,500 works of art. What’s more, Hollein announced the recent acquisition of works such as ‘Girl in a Red Dress’ (1934), by Charles Alston; ‘The Broken Five’ (2019), by Rashid Johnson; ‘Untitled (Dreamcatcher)’ (2014), by Marie Watt; or ‘The temptation of Saint Mary Magdalene’ (1626), by Johann Liss.
He also announced that in April the exhibition that is located on the roof will be inaugurated every year of the museum and that this year is in charge of the American of Venezuelan origin Alex Da Corte. In June will come ‘The New Women Behind the Camera’, which will review the history of women as a photographer, as well as ‘The Medici: Portraits and Politics’, which focuses on the portraits that were painted thanks to these patrons. Before, at the end of March, an extensive exhibition will be dedicated to the American Alice Neel, an artist and activist who lived in New York and who portrayed the marginalized society of the 60s and 70s, as Latino immigrant families or homosexual men .