Friday, August 13, 2010

Should Greenacres Foundation Lose It's Non-Profit Status?

The American Association of Museums sets the standard for best practices of museums including the sale of art and artifacts. Generally museum collections are not seen or used as assets. Instead, the mission of museums includes holding collections in trust for the public. While museums can sell works that are duplicates or in other ways offer no value to their holdings to obtain other works of art, but not to satisfy a debt.

There have been a number of stories in the past couple of years debating questionable deaccessioning of art practices. Brandeis' Rose Museum has been at the center of a controversy that sees the school's interest in selling the entire collection to satisfy a financial need. And more recently, the Chelsea Art Museum risks losing its charter for putting up its entire collection as collateral for a loan to pay it's mortgage. Losing its charter may lead to the museum losing its non-profit status.

Just as the museum community helps to upholds ethics rules around deaccessioning, cannot the Greenacres Foundation be held to certain ethics violations if the foundation demolishes the Gamble House? Other than the Cincinnati Preservation Association, I've heard a loud cry by a number of Cincinnati residents against the destruction of the house.

Presumably the Gamble House is legally protected by its Landmark designation. However this has not protected it from the Foundation's interest in letting it deteriorate to its current state. Of course I would never agree to allow the house be demolished, especially since the CPA has offered to purchase and restore it. I have heard from some who think the Foundation has every right to do with the house they wish since they own it.

Do they own it or is the house held in their trust as a Landmark. Are they not responsible for maintaining it? If it is decided they can demolish, shouldn't the Greenacres Foundation give up their non-profit status? What do our city's non-profit organizations think? Our Attorney General, Richard Cordray?

FYI: The Gamble House in Pasadena, California