Brian Frye, ‘The Illusory “Public Trust” in Art’

ABSTRACT
The ‘deaccessioning police’ argue that it is ‘unethical’ for art museums to ‘deaccession’ or ‘sell’ works of art from their collections for any purpose other than buying different works of art, because museums do not really own the art in their collections, but only hold it subject to the ‘public trust doctrine’. This essay observes that the public trust doctrine doesn’t apply to art, and that the arguments made by the deaccessioning police are absurd, on their own terms.

Frye, Brian L, The Illusory ‘Public Trust’ in Art (June 8, 2020). Deaccessioning in a Post-Pandemic World, 2020.

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