I have thought long and hard about ways to approach the conservation and maintenance of public art, particularly the thorny question of de-accessioning a piece.
What are the criteria? How do we make an informed decision? What is in the best interest of the public?
Historically, government entities have removed public artworks because they have deteriorated to the point where they pose a public safety hazard or they are so degraded they have become an eyesore, and the cost of repair exceeds 50% of their value (another hard thing to determine). The decision to remove an artwork in those cases is easier to make.
The more complex reasons to de-accession a public artwork stem from negative reactions to the content. What sort of process do we embark on if the public objects to the subject or style of an artwork? I think many folks, both arts professionals and the general public, are gun-shy about removing artworks because of subject or style after the precedents of Tilted Arc and John Ahearn’s installation, which remained for a brief five days on a plaza in front of a Bronx police station.
For the purposes of this discussion, I will focus on de-accessioning public artworks because of conservation issues.Read More