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Strapped NY Museums Allowed to Sell Artwork

outside of the Met Museum

New York museums in dire financial straits will be allowed to sell artworks from their collections, but not to cover operating costs. The Board of Regents, which has authority over the state's non-profit museums, is loosening some restrictions on museum sales.

The Education Department's Board of Regents voted to allow the sales, as long as the proceeds of the sales are used for the "acquisition, preservation, protection or care of collections." In other words, the museums can't sell parts of their collections to pay the mortgage.

Emergency rules adopted by the Board of Regents two years ago prohibited museums from selling off items in their collections to cover operating costs, a practice called “deacessioning.”

The rules were put in place at the height of the economic crisis, when some museums sold works to close gaps in their budget.

The new rules go into effect on Oct. 8.