The Met May Begin To Sell Its Artwork To Make Up For Pandemic Losses

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

The Met May Begin To Sell Its Artwork To Make Up For Pandemic Losses

All parts of NYC have been hit hard financially from the pandemic — even its most prestigious art museums.

Perhaps its most iconic — the Metropolitan Museum of Art — is in a particularly dire situation. So much so, that they are actually considering selling some of their precious artwork to make up for their $150 million deficit.

In an interview with the New York Times, the Met’s director Max Hollein said that “This is the time when we need to keep our options open. None of us have a full perspective on how the pandemic will play out. It would be inappropriate for us not to consider it, when we’re still in this foggy situation.”

Apparently due to the pandemic, the Association of Art Museum Directors (which governs major museums) changed their official guidelines to allow museums to use funds from sold artwork for different purposes. Previously, they could only use that money to buy more artwork, but for the next two years museums can “use the proceeds from deaccessioned art to pay for expenses associated with the direct care of collections.”

The Brooklyn Museum actually already started doing this in the fall, said the Times, raising $31 million to care for its current artwork by auctioning some pieces off. In the art world, this is called “deaccessioning.”


The former director of the Met already expressed concern over the potential decision, writing: “The danger is that deaccessioning for operating costs will become the norm, especially if leading museums like the Met follow suit. Deaccessioning will be like crack cocaine to the addict — a rapid hit, that becomes a dependency.”

And, one New Yorker has actually started a petition to ask the museum to not sell its art, and instead have its wealthy board members make up the difference. “We call on the Met’s board to do the job they signed up for: to give, to support the institution,” they wrote on the Change.org page. “We call upon the Met’s senior staff leadership to resist any attempts to sell off the art the Met holds in the public trust. It is inappropriate for senior staff to consider selling off the Met’s art.”

Time will tell how the Museum decides to move forward, but we hope its hallowed collections are there for New Yorkers to enjoy for years to come!

featured image source: Unsplash

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