"...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."
"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.”
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