BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For the first time, art museums struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic can now sell their art to stay afloat.

For years, art museums have operated under a rule not to sell pieces to pay the bills.

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“The policy rests on the idea that art, we hold and trust these collections for the public, and it’s sort of our sacred value that we preserve them for generations to come,” Christopher Bedford, Baltimore Museum of Art Director, said.

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A museum could only sell art if it then bought other works with the money it made.

But in these tough economic times, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Association of Art Museum Directors made a big change.

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For the next two years, institutions like the Baltimore Museum of Art can sell some pieces to pay for general operating expenses.

“That is radically new,” Bedford said. “We’ve never seen anything like that before.”

Bedford said the Baltimore Museum of Art does not have to take advantage of the policy change now, but supports it.

“I think it was really well positioned at the right time,” he said.

Even if the Baltimore Museum of Art does have to do this at some point, Bedford said they wont back down on what they value.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Stetson Miller