I love this odd, elegant phrase — de-accessioning — used by curators of museums, to describe the formal and sometimes fraught process of culling their collections in order to upgrade and acquire new pieces.
Sort of a garage sale, but with 17th. century tapestries and 19th.century portraits.
Here’s an interesting New York Times piece on it:
Cultural institutions like the National Academy Museum and the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University have generated controversy by selling or even considering selling items to cover operating costs, a practice forbidden by the professional association for art museum directors.
So even though all of the sales — with the exception of the historical society’s — are to be used to generate funds for future acquisitions, institutions that deaccession these days find themselves on the defensive. “Part of the normal biological clock of museums is to examine their collections,” said David Franklin, the director of the Cleveland Museum, which hopes to gain about $1 million from its sale. “We should be constantly refining and upgrading. I’ve given the message to all the curators that I regard deaccessioning as a normal act, and I encourage them to reassess the collections constantly.”
I think about this because I have some nice belongings I now want to dispose of, get some cash for, and acquire something better: a Lartigue photo, a kilim rug, a Japanese silk kimono, a raccoon boa. It’s much easier to bring something into your life or your home than find the right buyer for it when you need that cash.
Here’s a fairly astonishing/depressing look at what happens when your husband is a scam artist and the Feds swoop in to auction off everything you thought you owned.
This week I’m in Canada, to face the not unusual but fairly horrible task of sorting through my mother’s possessions and deciding — with her help — what will be sold, donated or kept. She is moving tomorrow into a nursing home, and it’s all been pretty sudden, so we’re having to make quick yet major decisions about some valuable objects and art. Let alone books, photos and personal papers.
I’ve bought and sold at auction before, and have written enough on art and antiques that I have a good idea what’s potentially valuable and is not, but for many people — and this is only a one-bedroom apartment, not a huge house full of stuff — it’s overwhelming physically, emotionally and financially. I admit, I’m dreading it.
When we’re at our most vulnerable, blindsided by grief and haste and confusion and loss, whether of life, home, vehicle, job or all of these at once, we have to detach from all these objects and dispose of them.
However Buddhist we wish to be(c0me) through practicing non-attachment, our possessions so often define us and encapsulate our memories.
What are you trying to get rid of?
How will you go about doing it?