Europeana Digital Spring Programme: Not in Public Ownership, but Available for Public Use
Two Arguments for Digital Public Access to Works Removed from Museum Collections
Divisive headlines exist today relating to deaccession: from the Michelangelo at the Royal Academy to the Pollock at the Everson Museum to the Cranach at the Brooklyn Museum.
With this conversation, I do not intend to discuss the merits or otherwise of deaccession - there already exist many guidelines from museum associations around the world that deal with this. However, given the current circumstances, deaccession looks set to increase in frequency in the coming years, as a matter of economic necessity. With the risk of objects leaving the public domain, we as an industry need to help save them so that the work is publicly available even after the gavel comes down at an auction. I would like to propose two methods in which digital technology can help with deaccessioning: a digital listing to offer access to the work and an official digital twin that remains in the museum collection. Losing the physical object doesn't mean that we cannot have it live on in the service of the public, by being available for loan, research and usage in a physical or a digital format using the tools we now have at our disposal. The industry needs to step up now to set those standards, before these objects are lost to the public. Join this roundtable discussion where we will openly debate these two suggestions.