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The Art of Deaccessioning by Museums

Recent controversies illustrate a need for re-examining this practice.

Museums play an indispensable role in civil society. They collect, study, conserve and exhibit significant works of art from varied cultures and time periods. They make otherwise inaccessible art accessible and help increase the public’s engagement with art. There is, therefore, a strong presumption against the disposal or “deaccessioning” of items in a museum’s collection. “Deaccession” is defined as the removal of an object, via sale or otherwise, from a


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