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The week in art news – US museums vote against permanent easing of deaccessioning guidelines

Plus: V&A pauses plans to make National Art Library staff redundant | Lacaton & Vassal win Pritzker Architecture Prize | and David Alan Harvey resigns from Magnum

19 March 2021

Members of the Association of Art Directors (AAMD) have voted by a narrow margin, 91 to 88, against asking its trustees to explore changing its guidelines to allow museums to sell art to pay for the care of their collections on a permanent basis. In April 2020, anticipating the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on museum finances, the AAMD allowed institutions to sell artworks to directly finance collection care for a period of two years. Pre-existing guidelines state that proceeds from a deaccessioned work should only be used to acquire other works of art. The informal vote, in which 42 institutions did not take part, was carried out in two virtual sessions on 9 and 11 March.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has paused its restructuring of the National Art Library and the Theatre & Performance curatorial teams. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the museum announced that all staff in those departments would be retained as employees for as long as the UK government’s furlough scheme lasts and that the National Art Library should reopen in December this year, six months after the museum plans to reopen in May. In the restructuring proposals that were first made public in early March, two thirds of the library’s 30 staff were set to be made redundant and the library was to be closed for a whole year. The wider restructuring and merging of curatorial roles at the museum is still part of an ongoing consultation.

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have won the Pritzker Prize this year. In contrast with many of the winners of architecture’s most prestigious prize, the Paris-based duo are known for their sensitive upgrading of social housing projects, and imaginative, but economical interventions. Lacaton & Vassal have also worked on notable arts projects such as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and the FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais in Dunkirk. In its citation, the Pritzker jury notes the firm’s ‘democratic spirit’ and its belief that ‘the best architecture can be humble and is always thoughtful, respectful, and responsible’.

The photographer David Alan Harvey has resigned from Magnum after, in a first in the photo agency’s history, its board voted to remove him from the membership (and before a vote of the general membership was due to take place). The board’s decision came after the conclusion of an independent investigation, launched in January this year, into the photographer’s behaviour. In late December, the Columbia Journalism Review published an in-depth report in which 11 women accused Harvey of sexual harassment and other abusive behaviour.

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