El show de la Colección de Otto Reyes-Veray curado por Adlín Ríos para el MAC, con ensayos de miembros de la AICA-PR, ganará el premo a mejor expo del año que serán otorgado por la AICA-PR en el 2009. No se asusten, ha pasado antes, se entregan premios entre ellos mismos.
Aunque el MAC cierre por la incompetencia de sus directores y a pesar de las mentiras al gobierno y al pueblo, cuando la exposición termine, el valor de la colección de Reyes-Veray subirá.
Mientras, lean estos artículos reveladores para los que se hacen que no saben 'na en The Art Newspaper:
Copyright, conflicts of interest, and how to deal with Uncle Sam
US museum lawyers met last month to discuss the most pressing issues they are currently facing
Martha Lufkin | 22.5.08 | Issue 191
A visitor to Van Gogh’s bedroom in Second Life. Versions of the original painting are in the Art Institute of Chicago, the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and the Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Over 200 museum employees, lawyers and interested parties convened in Scottsdale, Arizona, for the 36th annual conference on Legal Issues in Museum Administration in April.
The course, which brings legal know-how to museums without lawyers on staff, is offered by the American Law Institute-American Bar Association, and is co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution with the cooperation of the American Association of Museums (AAM).
In an address on the state of museums, AAM president Ford W. Bell told the group that museums are facing challenges including tight government budgets, a perception that charities serve the rich and negative press about perceived abuses at certain museums. The conference discussed new ways of dealing with intellectual property in the digital age, museum policies on corporate governance and conflicts of interest under increasingly probing government scrutiny.
The Second Life syndrome
Sharon Farb, associate university librarian at UCLA Library in Los Angeles, said that as museums put more images and content online, more users will ask to use it; she advises that museums not require licences for everything. Instead, they should make clear on their websites which content can be reproduced without permission, and should post all licence forms for those objects which require them. Virginia Rutledge, Vice President and General Counsel of the non-profit Creative Commons, San Francisco (CC), described the CC licence which piggybacks on existing copyright law to let copyright holders “signal when it is just fine” for a user to copy, or even alter, a work. The New Museum in New York, for example, uses CC licences to permit copying. The CC website posts six different licence forms to choose from, and tells you how to mark your content so users will know what copyright rules apply (http://creativecommons.org).
As web users find new applications for museum images, including those possibly obtained without permission, how should museums respond? Phoenix lawyer Connie J. Mabelson described websites which regularly violate copyright laws, although the usual copyright enforcement steps still apply. At Second Life or similar sites, virtual art—the hard copies of which may be owned by real museums—is being bought and sold by paying participants for virtual money, which can be exchanged for real dollars.
Visitors create an avatar which can enter a virtual, 3-D rendition of a famous bedroom scene painted by Van Gogh or buy furniture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. If the original work is protected by copyright, Ms Mabelson asks, should a museum take steps to enforce it, or do the virtual reworkings fall within a “fair use” exception to copyright infringement? (Perhaps the issue will be debated at Second Life’s virtual bar association, which does exist.) Ms Mabelson advises that a museum’s fair use policy should address what the museum should do if a museum image appears on a wiki, an online site where any user can add content.
The museum comes first
Recent scandals over alleged misconduct by top US museum officials have caused museums to review their conflicts of interest policies regulating board members and employees. Conflicts arise when a trustee’s duty of loyalty to the museum is compromised, says Lori Fox, acting vice president, general counsel and secretary at the J. Paul Getty Trust; she advises that museums have a well-written conflicts of interest policy that defines the trustees’ duties, prohibits potential conflicts, and provides a way to resolve them.
For example, conflicts can arise if a trustee collects art that the museum might collect; trustees should be forbidden to buy deaccessioned art, or to use inside information for their own benefit, such as to buy an artist’s work before the museum announces its purchase of art by the same artist, which could drive up prices. Museums should also require annual disclosure forms from trustees and some employees to identify possible conflicts, including asking about the trustee’s art acquisitions and whether the trustee has received gifts from museum staff or anyone the museum does business with. For example, trustees may seek favours from museum staff, such as asking a conservator to restore a privately owned manuscript, which would take the conservator away from his duties. While this may be a way to cultivate donors, the Smithsonian Institution prohibits using staff time and services for private uses.
When a conflict with a board member arises, the trustee’s interest in a possible transaction should be disclosed and the trustee must be excluded from the decision, which the board’s audit committee or even the state attorney general can be asked to review. The board must still ask whether the proposed transaction is in the museum’s best interests, which it might be, says Frederic Goldstein, general counsel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Each situation should be reviewed on its facts: while an exhibition of a trustee’s collection of local maps by a small museum may increase the collection’s value, the benefits to the museum and its community may be so great that the display is still in the institution’s best interests.
Congress is seeking to stop perceived abuses in the non-profit world, and is using the tax law to do so. The new revision to the annual tax return for non-profit organisations, Form 990, seeks significantly more information about how museums are run. Organisations will first file the return for tax years beginning this year. The form “shows the government’s increased role in governance and conflicts of interest”, says Marsha Shaines, deputy general counsel to the Smithsonian Institution. The information that charities provide on the forms will be publicly available. The museum must summarise its missions and activities, changes in its programmes and its achievements of its exempt purpose.
New questions about governance and management mean that the museum should have policies in place before the form is filed, Ms Shaines advises. For example, the form asks whether the board and committees contemporaneously documented their meetings during the year, whether the organisation has a written conflicts of interest policy, and whether officers, trustees and key employees are required to disclose annually any interests that could give rise to a conflict. The form asks whether the charity enforces its conflicts policy, and whether it has whistleblower protection and document retention and destruction policies. Museums must further disclose whether they determined director compensation using an independent review and comparability data, and contemporaneously substantiated their decision-making process. The form also requests the dollar details on first class travel, travel for companions, and housing allowances for directors and trustees.
While it is not clear whether the Internal Revenue Service will be able to process all this information, the public and press will now be able to review it.
Don’t get political
US charities are prohibited from participating in political campaigns, and cannot attempt to influence legislation. The rules are complex, and stiff penalties can apply. For example, museums cannot tell people to urge their congressmen to vote in favour of art funding.
A conference participant asked anonymously if a museum can host an exhibition on the anti-war movement within the Democratic Party? Under the law, a “facts and circumstances” test applies. The test is used to determine whether a non-profit is participating in a political campaign, and one factor could be how close in time the activity is to the campaign. The anti-war exhibition could raise an issue if it includes present-day events and differentiates between political parties. Both political parties should be covered, or the subject should be restricted to the past, says Marcus Owens, a lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, DC. “If you think a political statement is going to pop out of a visiting artist’s mouth at a lecture, you might want to start the programme with a disclaimer.”
The 2008 course book “Legal Issues in Museum Administration,” containing licence forms, conflicts of interest policies, employee standards of conduct and other materials, can be obtained from ALI-ABA at www.ali-aba.org or tel: +1 800 253-6397
Museums should beware of being used as marketing tools
Adrian Ellis | 8.4.08 | Issue 190
Show and sell: Sotheby’s announces auction of Chinese art just two days after museum display
Decisions made by art museums about what objects to acquire and what to exhibit affect the prices that those works of art and others related to them can command in the market. In the case of “related” works of art, the mechanics are very straightforward: if the Museum of Modern Art, New York, (MoMA) buys a Lawrence Weiner painting, then that’s good news if you happen to own one. And the more closely related your painting is to the MoMA’s, then the better news it is—most obviously, if it is painted during the same period; of the same quality; in the same medium; and the same size or bigger—the greater the impact of MoMA’s decision to acquire it will be on the price of your work. All other things being equal—which, of course, they rarely are—the greater the standing of the museum, then the greater the impact of its actions on the value of affected works. So MoMA moves markets, so to speak.
This is one obvious reason why museums need, axiomatically, to be able to make decisions about acquisitions, whether bought or donated, and about the choice of works to borrow and display, free from pressure from third parties who may stand to gain from any increase in their value or the value of related works.
Obviously, there may be difficulties when those third parties are also responsible for the governance of the museum itself: that is, when they are also first parties. Museum boards are unsurprisingly filled with collectors who should, and usually do, formally recuse themselves from decisions that are likely to have an impact on the value of works that they own; most obviously, the decision to
seek to borrow and display a work for a specific show, or the decision to acquire or de-accession works that have a relationship to their own holdings.
Professional codes of ethics of most national self-regulatory bodies in the art museum sector and of the International Council for Museums codify this elementary economic logic. And it is the responsibility of museum boards and museum directors to ensure that these codes are respected, which they generally are. When disrespected, they turn a museum into a pump for parlaying public standing into private gain and they systematically reduce the standing of the museum in the process.
This is all pretty much black and white: the integrity of the art museum sector, as is always the case with self-regulated systems, depends on the clear articulation of the ground rules; on the probity of the players; and on the transparency of decision making—in this case by curators, directors and board members.
There are however some grey areas, and two are dark grey. First, should museum staff be free to advise board members (or other collectors) on what they should be acquiring themselves, and should those board members who are also active collectors be free to acquire works informed, in effect, by the insider knowledge that they are making the same bets or judgments as the museum on whose board they serve?
There is no such thing as a one-handed economist. On the one hand, it’s the excitement of the studio tour, of meeting the artist or, if deceased, at least their biographer or widow(er), and of participating in the carefully staged debate of the acquisition committee, that makes the tedium and the cost of serving on a museum board worthwhile. Why on earth can’t you show your conviction by supporting the artist directly as well as through contributions to the museum? Indeed, it’s often the board members’ enthusiasms as collectors that draw them close to the museum emotionally and financially. Collectors make passionate, informed and often generous trustees. And that is better than the alternative.
On the other hand, insider trading is not a victimless crime, even if the art heist perpetrator is, in this case, barely conscious of the crime committed and would be wildly dismissive of its seriousness if confronted. In the highly subjective world of contemporary art, in particular, reputations are made by a relatively small group of movers and shakers—critics, dealers, collectors, and curators—and the collector may be as influential, or more, as the curator in the mix. But in so far as the museum authenticates and ratifies the collectors’ judgement, and the collector is ahead of the market in their acquisitions as a result of their board service, there is an outstanding and knotty issue in museum ethics.
Second, art museums tend to object when a work on loan is “sold off their walls”. And when the whole exhibition is sold off they are seriously upset. Collectors benefit from a loan to a museum when the work’s value is enhanced and the loaned work is subsequently sold at a higher price than would have been possible without the provenance and public relations boost that the exhibition loan furnishes. This was one of several transgressions of which Charles Saatchi stood accused in the “Sensation” brouhaha—he sold many of the iconic works in that exhibition in the years following at prices significantly increased by the publicity they received when exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York.
This is also the fate of Alan and Simone Hartman’s collection of Chinese Jades displayed at the Boston Museum of Art in 2003-04 and subsequently sold at auction and, most recently, of the contemporary Chinese collection acquired for auction by the dealer Bill Acquavella after exhibitions at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. And I predict that there will be a continuing series of disposals of prominent and recently built collections over the next few years as unstable economic fortunes founder and weakly-grounded tastes change.
In these cases, museums serve as accomplices, albeit unwilling, to a sequence of events in which their standing is appropriated for private gain. The lenders who subsequently dispose of their loans may have had this intention all along or their circumstances may simply have altered—force majeure. But museums, in protecting the public interest and their long term reputations, have a responsibility to seek and secure firmer assurances about intentions than they currently do—and not to be (or appear to be) suckered by lenders. This is particularly so in cases where one is not talking about a single work but an entire exhibition or display of related objects, shown and catalogued as an entity, then broken up and sold off following its display. A nuanced code of ethics is unnecessary and no substitute for a measured and objective judgement of probabilities. To quote Nancy Reagan: “Just say no.”
The writer is a director of AEA Consulting and a regular contributor to The Art Newspaper