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Deaccessioning is an infrequent and multi-step process that is carefully considered by the appropriate curator, conservator, registrars, director of collections, executive director, and board of trustees.

The Portland Art Museum maintains professional standards for its collection. Objects that have been formally accessioned into the collection are retained as long as they can be properly preserved and are relevant to the mission of the Museum. Objects may be considered for deaccession to improve the integrity and quality of the collection. Deaccessioned objects may be transferred to another museum or publicly sold at auction, and the proceeds from the sale will be used for the purchase of artworks that are of higher quality and greater relevance.

Criteria for Deaccessions

Works that can be deaccessioned include: works of inferior quality unrelated to present holdings; works that have deteriorated or are damaged beyond repair; duplicates or works that are very similar to others in the collection, except when a case can be made for their educational value; inauthentic works, unless they are of educational value; works being replaced by a superior example.

Overview of Procedure

The appropriate curator must obtain two outside recommendations from scholars pertaining to the candidates for deaccession. Donor records are examined to ensure that deaccessioning will not violate the donor’s philanthropic intent; the list of candidates for deaccessioning, with written justification, is reviewed by the executive director, and presented to the Collections Committee for approval. If approved, the Committee will recommend the action to the Executive Committee of the Board.

For transparency and educational purposes, the Portland Art Museum will post deaccessioned objects on its website.