We are not for sale

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This policy of not allowing donors to purchase access to the collection is essential. It’s there to protect the integrity of art on view, which is always in danger of being corrupted by commerce. Museums are charged with preserving the best of humanity’s cultural heritage for the public; this responsibility demands that we guard against commercial influence.

Telling donors that their gifts will not influence museum policies is one part of that defense. The other is having a policy at all, because it also sends a strong message: We’re not for sale.

We’ve heard from donors who question why they can’t pay to have their family name put on a gallery or a bench or some other part of the museum. Our answer is simple: It’s not a store; it’s a museum. We’re glad you want to support us and we hope you’ll continue to do so in other ways that are less problematic, such as making direct gifts or joining our Friends group.

Why does MoMA not sell its collection?

MoMA’s collection of over 100,000 works of art is held in trust for the public. The Museum does not sell works from its collection, nor does it lend them for purposes of display or exhibition elsewhere. This policy has been in effect since the Museum was founded in 1929.

What are the reasons for this policy?

The collection belongs to everyone. It is a resource to serve and inspire all. In keeping with this belief, the Museum’s founders intended that it be maintained in perpetuity and made available to all without restriction.

But surely there have been times when the Museum could have sold or lent a work to raise money, or to get something else it needed to enhance its collections?

Museum collections are not a source of capital. They are held in trust for future generations. The trustees who oversee museums today agree with their predecessors that selling artworks or lending them for purposes other than those approved by the board would compromise this fundamental responsibility. Once works of art are sold or otherwise transferred from the collection, they are unavailable for public viewing and study at MoMA.

A museum’s identity and integrity depend upon maintaining this policy as an essential element of its educational mission.

The most important thing to know about the Museum of Modern Art’s controversial policy of not selling works in its collection is that the museum has never had a policy of selling works in its collection.

We have one now, and it’s new. But controversies are often triggered by a change in a museum’s policies, and MoMA’s shift on this issue is no exception. The idea that MoMA would sell any work from its collection—or, for that matter, any work from anyone’s collection—has been unthinkable for so long that it seems wrong even to put it into words.

The new policy was announced last month by Adam Weinberg, the museum’s director. It will remain in effect until 2035, when it will be reviewed again. The policy states that any works donated to MoMA after June 30, 2015 may be sold only if the board of trustees approves the sale “in advance and only under certain prescribed conditions.”

It sounds like a big change, but what those conditions are might surprise you. The press release accompanying the announcement said they were meant “to allow the Museum to address future needs while maintaining the integrity of its Collection and fulfilling the Museum’s mission

The Museum of Modern Art has always subscribed to the view that art is essential to the well-being of society, and works of art are not for sale. The Museum’s position stems from its founding mission, established in 1928 by a group of visionary trustees, who were committed to making works of modern and contemporary art accessible to a broad public. The founders believed that the purchase and sale of art were at odds with this goal.

The Museum’s collection policy has evolved over time, but it continues to honor the commitment made by its founders. It is an important part of the Museum’s mission to preserve this policy for future generations.

By not selling works from its collection, the Museum is able to provide exceptional care for them, as well as make them available for research and scholarship. The collection is an important resource for our curators and educators in their work with artists, scholars, students and the general public.

This policy does not mean that individual works from the collection cannot be lent or exchanged with other museums or institutions; rather, it means that such works are never sold. The only time an artwork can leave the collection is if a museum has financial need or if ownership is relinquished by a donor who wishes his or her gift to be retained by another institution.

The policy of MoMA’s Board of Trustees is that the collection shall not be sold. This is a fundamental principle to which the Museum adheres. The collection belongs to the public and it is the museum’s responsibility to preserve and maintain it for future generations.

The policy is stated in the following resolution adopted by the Board of Trustees on December 14, 1963:

“RESOLVED, That neither the Collection nor any part thereof shall ever be sold or exchanged, loaned or transferred, or any title thereto given or any interest therein conveyed, except as otherwise provided by the Board of Directors acting pursuant to express authorization of the Board of Trustees in each instance.”

The rationale behind this policy is based on several considerations:

* It is a fundamental principle that works of art are not for sale but have value only if they remain in a public collection where they may be seen and studied by all; this is especially important in view of the international character now assumed by many areas of artistic research;

* Works of art are created for all time, and their meaning and importance may change with changing circumstances; for this reason it is essential that an art collection should remain intact and should not be broken up in order to gain

The Museum affirms its commitment to the free flow of information, ideas, and opinions. It recognizes the central importance of this principle in furthering a free society, an open economy, and access to public information. The Museum does not endorse candidates for political office or take positions on public policy issues; accordingly it does not bar any individual or group from entry to its building nor prevent them from displaying their views on the Museum’s premises. However, the Museum reserves the right to prohibit any activity that it believes may threaten the safety of its staff and visitors or that would damage property within its care.

The Museum also respects copyright laws and expects individuals or groups who use its premises to do so in a manner consistent with those laws.

Furthermore, the Museum respects the right of artists and other individuals who have works on display in its galleries to express their own views through their art or statements. However, the Museum will enforce its own policies concerning conduct on its premises by visitors and others which are intended to protect its property from damage, secure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, ensure public safety, protect public health and welfare and maintain good order.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a private, not-for-profit institution with a public mission to foster a greater international awareness of modern and contemporary art.

Ticketing, admission policies, and all other activities related to MoMA’s collection are funded by the Museum’s operating budget and are free and open to the general public.

While admission is always free at MoMA, the Museum does request that visitors consider a donation of at least $10.00 at the time they purchase tickets.

The purpose of this voluntary contribution is to support MoMA’s ongoing mission of fostering greater public understanding of modern and contemporary art. In keeping with this commitment, the contribution amount will be adjusted annually to reflect the inflation rate as calculated by the Consumer Price Index for New York City.

This policy applies only to general admission; it does not apply to special exhibitions or other programs that carry additional charges such as admission fees, classes, film screenings or lectures.’

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