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September 24, 2020

New York State Education Department Statement on Museum Deaccessioning

by
NYSED

 

The New York State Board of Regents (“the Regents”) charters museums in New York State as educational corporations and has governing authority over these incorporated organizations. In 2011, the Regents approved an amendment to its Rules regarding deaccession policies, including the practice of deaccessioning and the use of funds resulting from such practice.

Recently, there had been some confusion in the museum field regarding deaccessioning regulations. The Regents Rules are in alignment with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Code of Ethics for Museums that remain in place.

The relevant Regents Rules are listed below:

Title 8 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York

§3.27

(a) Definitions.

(10) Deaccession means: (a) removing an object from an institution's collection or (b) the act of recording/processing a removal from an institution's collection.

(5) Facilities. The institution shall:
(e) Deaccession. The criteria and process (including levels of permission) used for determining what items are to be removed from the collections, and a statement limiting the use of any funds derived therefrom in accordance with subparagraph (vii) below;
(iv) ensure that collections or any individual part thereof and the proceeds derived therefrom shall not be used as collateral for a loan;

(v) ensure that collections shall not be capitalized; and

(vi) ensure that proceeds derived from the deaccessioning of any property from the institution's collection be restricted in a separate fund to be used only for the acquisition, preservation, protection or care of collections. In no event shall proceeds derived from the deaccessioning of any property from the collection be used for operating expenses or for any purposes other than the acquisition, preservation, protection or care of collections.

(7) Deaccessioning of collections. An institution may deaccession an item in its collection only in a manner consistent with its mission statement and collections management policy and where one or more of the following criteria have been met:

  1. the item is inconsistent with the mission of the institution as set forth in its mission statement;
  2. the item has failed to retain its identity;
  3. the item is redundant;
  4. the item's preservation and conservation needs are beyond the capacity of the institution to provide;
  5. the item is deaccessioned to accomplish refinement of collections;
  6. it has been established that the item is inauthentic;
  7. the institution is repatriating the item or returning the item to its rightful owner;
  8. the institution is returning the item to the donor, or the donor's heirs or assigns, to fulfill donor restrictions relating to the item which the institution is no longer able to meet;
  9. the item presents a hazard to people or other collection items; and/or
  10. the item has been lost or stolen and has not been recovered.

Museum Reporting Requirements

§3.27 & §3.30

Each institution shall file with the commissioner an annual report, in a form prescribed by the commissioner, which records the educational and cultural activities of the institution and presents an accurate statement of all financial operations. Each institution shall include in its annual report a list of all items or item lots deaccessioned in the past year and all items or item lots disposed of in the past year.

More Information on Deaccessioning

NYSED

2011 Amendment of Regents Rule §3.27, Relating to Museum Collections Management Policies
https://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2011/2011-02-12

American Alliance of Museums (Direct Care of Collections)
https://www.aam-us.org/programs/ethics-standards-and-professional-practices/direct-care-of-collections/

Association of Art Museum Directors 2020 Resolution regarding Deaccessions (AAMD)
https://aamd.org/for-the-media/press-release/aamd-board-of-trustees-approves-resolution-to-provide-additional