Art For Equity: BMA's Plan To Sell 3 Works To Fund Equity, Diversity Programs | WYPR

Art For Equity: BMA's Plan To Sell 3 Works To Fund Equity, Diversity Programs

Oct 7, 2020

Christopher Bedford is director, Baltimore Museum of Art
Credit Christopher Myers Photography

Tom's first guest today is Baltimore Museum of Art Director Christopher Bedford.  He joins us to discuss the BMA's plan to sell three of the paintings in its collection to raise money for several initiatives.  The paintings, Andy Warhol's The Last Supper, Clyfford Still's 1957-G and Brice Marden's 3, might collectively command as much as $65 million dollars when they go to auction.

(You can view digital images of the three works in the slide show, above.)

The BMA is one of eight museums across the country planning to sell some of the work in their collection this fall, but the BMA sale is far and away the largest, and perhaps the most controversial...

Most of the time, when museums sell art from their collections, they use the money to buy more art, and the works they choose to sell are subject to criteria established by and agreed to by museum professionals.  The BMA plan does include the purchase of new art, but it also includes allocating some of the auction proceeds to fund pay raises for museum staff, including some of the employees who are currently earning about $13 an hour.  While many in the art world applaud the museum’s efforts to pay employees a living wage, and its commitment to include in its collection more work by women and people of color, they think there are better ways to achieve those noble goals without selling three significant works from a world-renowned collection.  

BMA Director Christopher Bedford joins us on Zoom.