Deaccession, disposal via auction, sale, transfer or destruction

Deaccession, disposal via auction, sale, transfer or destruction


Process and procedures used to remove permanently an object from a museum’s collection and to document the reasons for removal.

As a common practice for museums and sometime controversial, deaccessioning objects from the collection occurs when the object is outside the scope of the institution’s mission, deteriorating so that it can no longer be displayed or used, or could be better used by another educational institution. As with accessioning an object, due diligence is required to ensure that a policy is in place, legal title is held by the museum and any restrictions reviewed before a museum deaccessions an object from the collection.

Working for two large institutions where deaccessioning was practiced, The Fine Arts Museums of San francisco and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I dealt with reviewing files, working with the curatorial staff, auction house contracts and other policy and procedures to make sure the process occurred according to the procedures set by the museum. I oversaw hundreds of items from the time they were recommended for deaccession to the final disposition of them either by sale, exchange, or destruction.  These methods and results were then recorded into the object files for complete documentation of the objects.


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