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University of Iowa News Release


April 9, 2009

Rosenbaum to discuss 'When Values Collide: Financial Asset or Cultural Asset' April 15

The Metropolitan Museum, New York. The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, Massachusetts. The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, Virginia. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

These are just a few of the museums to catch the public eye in recent years and months for decisions to deaccession, or sell, art from their collections. The University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) will present a free, public program examining this controversial issue at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at the University Athletic Club, 1360 Melrose Ave. in Iowa City.

The program, titled "When Values Collide: Financial Asset or Cultural Resource," will feature a keynote address from veteran cultural journalist Lee Rosenbaum (photo, left). A prominent art blogger and a frequent writer for the Wall Street Journal's "Leisure & Arts" page, Rosenbaum has often been the first to break the news about museum deaccessioning controversies. Iowa City-based attorney David Bright, who serves on the American Bar Association's Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee and the UIMA Members Council, will join Rosenbaum for the talk.

"When Values Collide" is the second of three talks in the UIMA's Spring 2009 Elliott Society Lecture Series. The third lecture, for museum donors at the Elliott Society level and above, will be presented at the same location on Wednesday, April 22, with the theme "Art as Inspiration: The Value of Art Education."

"As part of the university, an educational institution, it is our responsibility to help the public learn about this issue -- especially during tough economic times," said UIMA Interim Director Pamela White. "The paintings in our collections are cultural resources we hold in trust for future generations, and they are essential to the university's academic mission."

The program's focus is especially relevant for the UIMA in light of recent events, White said. "In 2008, at the request of the Iowa Board of Regents, the university prepared an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of deaccessioning the Museum's most celebrated painting, Jackson Pollock's "Mural" (1943).

Currently, organizations like the American Association of Museums (AAM), which accredits museums that meet that organization's standards, and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), which represents major art museums in the United States, Canada and Mexico, outline deaccessioning best practices.

Rosenbaum, who covered the Pollock story on her blog, advocates clearly enunciated, well-publicized standards regarding deaccessioning practices.

"It's important for the public to know and understand these issues because this is their stuff. We've paid for the art with the tax deductions that people get for donating it as well as through museums' tax-exempt status, which museums get through properly fulfilling their public purpose," Rosenbaum said.

A graduate of Cornell University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Lee Rosenbaum has frequently contributed to the Wall Street Journal, New York Public Radio, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others. She has also appeared on BBC-TV. A widely read blogger and cultural commentator, she is author of "The Complete Guide to Collecting Art" (Knopf) and has lectured on artworld issues at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University Law School, Seton Hall University, the annual conference of the Museum Association of New York, and a conference sponsored by UNESCO and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture at the New Acropolis Museum. For more information, visit her blog CultureGrrl

Bright practices law with Meardon, Sueppel & Downer, P.L.C., where he focuses a significant portion of his practice on nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations. He is a frequent speaker at state continuing legal education events and a regular guest speaker at the University of Northern Iowa on philanthropy and the law. He serves as President of the Iowa Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts on the Members' Council for the University of Iowa Museum of Art. He also serves on the American Bar Association's Art and Cultural Heritage Law Committee and Steering Group and is the author of an upcoming series of articles for the Committee's Newsletter on litigation relating to the wreck and artifacts of the R.M.S. Titanic. Bright was born and raised in Iowa City and earned both his B.S. and J.D. from the University of Iowa.

The UI Museum of Art offices have been relocated to the Studio Arts Building, 1275 Highway 1 West (Old Menards) in Iowa City. For up-to-date museum information visit or the UIMA blog, "Art Matters," at, or call 319-335-1725.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Maggie Anderson, Museum of Art, 319-335-1739,; Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-335-0552,