The question of whether museums should start selling their artworks was raised for financial reasons early last fall when the UK Royal Opera sold work by David Hockney for £ 18m. Shortly thereafter, the Royal Academy of Arts announced that it planned to sell a signed marble statue of Michelangelo. Since then, the Brooklyn Museum has also auctioned a dozen works, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is also planning to sell.
The reason for the need to sell is because museums have lost nearly all ticket revenue as a result of the pandemic. But in Sweden, none of the eight parliamentary parties would like to see Swedish museums sell their art in order to survive financially.
Museums that sell their art should not be seen as a last resort. The Social Democrats ’cultural policy spokesman, Lawen Riddard, says this situation simply should not happen.
“It’s important to get support packages in place.”
According to Lawen Redar, Sweden, unlike countries like the United Kingdom and the United States, has a strongly publicly funded museum activity with the state, district or municipality being the main one. Thus, museums have stronger protection and not the same loss of income they would have had had they been funded largely from ticket revenues. Private museums are the ones that have gone through the most difficult times during the pandemic.
Instead of forcing museums to sell their artworks, the loss of museum revenue should be compensated primarily with the help of the state’s cultural support.
“It is unfortunate that the financial problems resulting from the pandemic force the museum to sell things that it considers important to collections to be as good as possible, or for other technical reasons. This is why it is so important that we have a support package,” writes Christer Nylander (left), Head of the Culture Committee, to Kulturnyheterna.