Wildcat Statue

DeVos Art Museum Deaccessions Policy

DeVos Art Museum Deaccessions Policy

The DeVos Art Museum (the Museum) at Northern Michigan University (NMU) Collection Management Policy establishes policies for the acquisition, deaccession, loan, care and use of the collections of the Museum. The policies of the Museum shall exist within those of NMU, State or Federal law and statues of regulation under which the Museum is legally or ethically bound to operate.

NMU Staff.

NMU is vested with the ultimate responsibility for the safety and maintenance of the museum‐quality collections that it owns. The Museum collection is part of the collections at NMU. It is the policy of NMU to charge the staff of the Museum, under authority of the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Art and Design and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, with the primary functions of collecting, researching, interpreting, exhibiting, preserving, maintaining, and caring for NMU’s fine art and related historical collections, according to the highest museum standards and ethics possible.

NMU maintains other collections, including the Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archive, the Provost Collection of Student Art, the Special Collections of Olson Library and the Upper Peninsula Beaumier Heritage Center. These areas maintain their own policies and collections records, separate from the DeVos Art Museum. However, the DeVos Art Museum will, to the extent possible, advise, assist, and collaborate with faculty and staff responsible for the other NMU collections, but the DeVos Art Museum’s primary responsibility is for fine art and related historical items.

Deaccession is the term that defines the process by which an art object is legally and permanently removed from the collection. Disposition is the method by which the removal is accomplished. A key function of the Museum is to acquire works of art and to maintain them for posterity, thus it considers deaccessions with utmost seriousness. However, it recognizes that there are circumstances when deaccessioning is necessary, as outlined below. Following the standards of the American Association of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors, deaccessioning will not be regarded as a means to provide extra funding for the Museum. The deaccession process shall be cautious, deliberate, scrupulous, and solely for the advancement of NMU and the DeVos Art Museum’s mission.



A. Criteria for Deacessions
All artworks in the Museum’s collection, whether acquired through donations or any other method, are eligible for the deaccessioning process. In the case of donated artworks, all legal documents relating to the donation will be consulted prior to beginning the process. No object in the Museum’s collection shall be deaccessioned unless it meets at least one of the following criteria:

• Retention of the object would be inconsistent with the Museum’s mission, collecting policy and character of the existing collection;
• The object lacks authenticity or documentation;
• The object is proven to be a fake or forgery;
• The object is a duplicate or of inferior quality to another identical or similar object in the Museum’s collection;
• The object has deteriorated to such poor physical condition that is not possible or practical for the Museum to adequately conserve it; or a restoration would be so extensive that it would destroy the integrity of the work;
• The object cannot be adequately stored or cared for;
• The object is actively deteriorating, and the cost of restoration exceeds its aesthetic or fair market value;
• A clear determination has been made that the Museum does not hold legitimate title to the work or that the object has been exported or imported in violation of state, federal, or foreign laws;
• The object must be repatriated in keeping with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA);
• The object was unlawfully appropriated by the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945 and must be returned to the rightful owner or heirs;
• The object can be traded for something more consistent with the Museum’s collection;
• The object constitutes a physical hazard or health risk to the staff or public;
• The object is not, or rarely, on display because of lack of a suitable site;
• After six months of documented reasonable and diligent searches, the object cannot be located.

B. Procedures for Deaccessions
1. For objects that were accessioned as gifts, the Museum will notify and consult with the NMU Foundation at the beginning of the deaccessioning process. The Museum will also make all reasonable efforts to notify any living donor, or the estate of any deceased donor, whose gift is being considered for deaccession.

2. The Museum Director will present to the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Art a formal recommendation that addresses the restrictions, if any, which would prevent removal of the work from the collection, the reasons for deaccessioning this particular work and its relationship to the purposes and mission of the Museum; confirmation that the Museum holds clear title to the work; assessment of the work’s fair market value; which method will be used for disposition of the work; and whether the proposed deaccession is in the best interests of the Museum’s constituents.

3. The Museum Director and the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Art will further confer with the School of Art and Design faculty and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

4. Upon approval of the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Art and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Museum Director will bring the recommendation to the DeVos Art Museum Permanent Collection Committee for discussion. The Museum Director will provide all necessary documentation to assist the Committee with making an informed decision.

5. When the Committee concurs with the recommendation of the Museum Director, a proposal for deaccessioning is made by the Museum Director, with the support of the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Art and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, to the President of NMU. At that time a decision is made to forward the recommendation to the Board of Trustees for action, or to terminate the deaccessioning procedure.

6. If the Board of Trustees approves the deaccession, written notice will be given to the DeVos Art Museum Advisory Committee, the NMU Foundation and department of Communications and Marketing.

Deaccessioned objects will first be offered to another NMU collection. If it is not transferred within NMU, it will then be offered to another Museum or tax‐ exempt educational/cultural institution through transfer, exchange, gift or sale. Deaccessioned objects not disposed of in this manner normally shall be sold at advertised public markets. In keeping with its policy of full disclosure, the Museum will, when selling a work in a public market, identify it as being sold by the DeVos Art Museum for its acquisition fund. The provenance of the work names the donor and gives its history unless the work was donated anonymously or with a request for anonymity, or unless such a request is made by the donor or donor’s estate on notification of the proposed deaccession. Funds received from the sale of deaccessioned objects from the Museum shall be used solely for the care and conservation of, or acquisitions for, the permanent collection of the Museum. Exceptions to this provision shall require specific authorization from the President of NMU.

Objects that will be sold, exchanged, or transferred which, in the best estimation of the Museum, have a value over $1,000 will be appraised by an outside appraiser at the expense of the Museum.

Only in cases where deaccessioned objects are deteriorated or so worn as to prove virtually unusable or otherwise of no historical or educational value will they be discarded or destroyed. Such action will be taken only upon written recommendation of the Museum Director and the DeVos Art Museum Permanent Collection Committee and approved by the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Art.

A permanent record of the conditions and circumstances under which objects are deaccessioned and disposed of will be made and retained by the Museum. A list of deaccessions will be included in the Museum’s annual report and reported directly to the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Art, the Dean of Arts and Sciences and the President.

Date Approved:1-4-2000
Last Revision:7-23-2023
Last Reviewed:7-23-2023
Approved By:Committee
Oversight Unit:ART & DESIGN, SCHOOL OF
Attached form file: DAMCollectionUpdate7_27_23.pdf