Delaware Art Museum to sell art to pay off 2005 expansion project

It’s not the way it’s supposed to go, when the container trumps the works contained, but this week the Delaware Art Museum announced it will sell four paintings from its collection to pay off the massive debt incurred from its $32m, 20,000 sq ft 2005 expansion and renovation project, designed by Boston-based Ann Beha Architects that doubled its size.

The move is highly controversial and in direct opposition to the Code of Ethics established by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), to which all members must adhere. While the four paintings have yet to be identified, it is estimated that their sale will yield $30m dollars, enough to retire the institution’s $19.8m bond debt and replenish its endowment.

Located in Wilmington, Delaware, the museum’s collection consists of 12,500 objects, spanning 19th- and 20th-century contemporary art, with strengths in 19th-century American painting and Pre-Raphaelite painting. According to a museum spokesperson, its annual budget is $4m.

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