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.

“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.


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.

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.

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

Comments (3)
  1. Ken Blaze says:

    This is a poorly worded piece. News bulletin…SOUND the trumpets! The author makes it sound like there are “Art Museum police” ready to arrest you if museums sell an art piece. Like God has now decided they CAN sell art. Art museums always have, and always will, and will continue to sell their art when they want. Sometimes with the public knowledge and sometimes not.

  2. Desiree says:

    Translation: Now, museums can sell the art to pay the people running the institution into the ground. I wonder how the people who donated the art or provided the funds for some art feel about it.

  3. James Whitehead says:

    My late uncle was a semi-famous painter and so I learned a few things: Art museums have always engaged in a semi-secret barter trade of favors, where they “loan” art they don’t want for a donation or a “loan” of other art, so that they can claim it wasn’t technically sold.

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