Deaccession and Disposal Policy (2008) - Art and Decorative Arts Collection

1.    Purposes of Deaccessioning

The Trustees of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery may as required from time to time deaccession and dispose of works of art from the collection to improve the collection by removing works determined to be unfit or inappropriate for the collection in order to assist in reducing storage and maintenance costs; rationalising, consolidating and focusing the collection; and generating income for further collection development.

2.    Criteria for Deaccessioning

The following classes of work may be considered for deaccessioning:

2.1 Works which may not have been lawfully obtained by the Museum or which may legitimately be claimed by an individual or their heirs, trustees or representatives, or by an organisation or institution representing a claimant community or nation;

2.2 works which are in poor physical condition, whether through accidental damage, deterioration or infestation and which are beyond restoration to a level suitable for public display, scholarly use or other appropriate museum purposes;

2.3 works which have been determined to be forgeries, or which have been falsely or wrongly attributed;

2.4 duplicates of a print or multiple whose retention serves no purpose for public display, scholarly use or other appropriate museum purposes;

2.5 with the exception of special study collections, works which fall below the general level of aesthetic quality or historical significance in the Museum’s representation of an artist, period or style; and

2.6 works which fall outside the parameters of the collection, as defined by the Museum’s Acquisition Policy at the time of deaccessioning.

3. Restrictions

3.1 Works shall not be deaccessioned which are subject to a trust or other legal impediment which forbids deaccessioning.

3.2 The following works will generally not be considered for deaccessioning:

3.2.1    Works which were acquired less than ten years prior to the time of the proposed deaccession;

3.2.2    works by living artists, unless the artist’s views have been taken into account other than where the Museum is unable to locate the artist despite a reasonable effort having been made;

3.2.3 Works in respect of which there is an expectation, an informal trust or a moral obligation that they will not be deaccessioned without having taken into consideration the views of the donor, the personal representatives of the donor’s estate, or any other person the Trustees consider has a relevant interest in the proposed deaccession.

4. Procedures

The following steps shall be followed in deaccessioning a work:

4.1 A proposal for deaccessioning shall be initiated by the Curator with immediate responsibility for the work, or at the request of the Director or Trustees;

4.2 Except in the case of returns (see 2.1, above), the Museum’s clear and unrestricted title in the work shall be established;

4.3 A written deaccession proposal shall be prepared by the responsible Curator through the Director to the Trustees, and the proposal will include:

• full catalogue details of the work

• full details of the circumstances of the work’s acquisition, including any prohibitions or restrictions on deaccessioning (including statutory restrictions)

• reasons for the proposed deaccessioning (see 2, above)

• recommendations for the means of disposal (see 5, below)

• estimated current market value of the work, if any;

4.4 The work shall be approved in principle for deaccessioning on the absolute majority vote of the Trustees;

4.5 Notice of an ‘in principle’ deaccession shall be publicly advertised and the Minister for the Arts informed of the deaccession proposal and forwarded a copy of the Notice;

4.6 The public notice will specify a period to enable representations to be made. Under normal circumstances a period of three months should generally elapse between the public notice and the resolution relating to the deaccessioning and disposal;

4.7 The Trustees will take into account the representations made; approval of deaccessioning requires four affirmative votes.

5. Disposal

A deaccessioned work shall be disposed of by one of the following means:

5.1 Transfer to another museum or appropriate public institution;

5.2 exchange with another museum or appropriate public institution; *

5.3 exchange with a collector or dealer; *

5.4 sale by public tender; *

5.5  sale by public auction;

5.6 in the case of returns (see 2.1, above), by gift to the original owner, their heirs, trustees or representatives, or to a responsible institution, organisation or agency representing a community or nation; or

5.7  destruction.

In the case of exchange or sale other than by public auction, at least one independent valuation of the work and in the case of exchange with a collector or dealer at least two independent authentications and valuations shall be obtained prior to the exchange or sale, from a qualified external assessor. In relation to an exchange (clause 2 & 3) and after certified valuations and authentication, payment of a sum of money shall be made or received in recognition of the difference in value between the works exchanged if appropriate.

6. Restrictions

Under no circumstance shall a deaccessioned work be purchased by or transferred or given to any Trustee or employee of the Museum or any member of their immediate families. 

7. Proceeds from Sale

7.1 Proceeds from the sale of a deaccessioned work shall be reserved and applied only to acquisitions, with priority given if appropriate to works for the same area of the collection

7.2 Where practicable, the credit line of a work acquired with the proceeds of the disposal of a donated work shall acknowledge the original donor.

8. Documentation

On completion of the deaccessioning and disposal process:

8.1 The Museum’s registers and files shall be amended to note the deaccessioning and disposal of the work, and copies of photographic and written records pertaining to the work shall be retained by the Museum;

8.2 the work’s accession number shall not be reassigned; and

8.3 the deaccessioning and disposal of the work shall be reported in the next Annual Report of the Trustees of the Museum.