The resolutions state that AAMD will refrain from censuring or sanctioning any museum—or censuring, suspending or expelling any museum director—that decides to use restricted endowment funds, trusts, or donations for general operating expenses. The resolution also addresses how a museum might use the proceeds from deaccessioned art to pay for expenses associated with the direct care of collections. The resolution does not change AAMD’s Professional Practices or any other rules currently in place, but instead effectively places a moratorium on punitive actions through April 10, 2022. AAMD also recognizes that it is not within the Association’s purview to approve the redirection of restricted funds. However, it hopes that these resolutions will serve as an endorsement to donors or the relevant legal authorities, encouraging them to permit the temporary use of these funds for unrestricted needs.
“This is a crisis without precedent in our lifetime, with global implications and with a timeline that unfolds as we live it,” said Brent Benjamin, president of the Association of Art Museum Directors and The Barbara B. Taylor Director of the Saint Louis Art Museum. “On the one hand, there is no clear timeline for the pandemic concluding, for the economy to begin growing again, and for life to return to normal. Art museums, on the other hand, typically plan their exhibitions and activities months or years in advance, including anticipating both the costs and fundraising needs for each initiative. Since planning for the future with any accuracy is impossible, while earned revenue has stopped and the future of charitable giving is unknown, it was important for AAMD to take a step that could provide some additional financial support to art museums.”