Open Letter Increases Pressure on Baltimore Museum of Art to Cancel Sale of Artworks

​A letter sent last week to the state of Maryland demanding an investigation into the Baltimore Museum of Art’s deaccessioning of three works from its permanent collection has garnered nearly 150 signatures of support. Among the most recent signatories are the art historian Michael Fried; Arnold Lehman, former Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) director and Brooklyn Museum director emeritus; and Stiles Colwill, an honorary board member and former board chair who resigned in protest of the deaccessions. Longtime docents of the museums as well as Baltimore-area artists and cultural workers have also signed on.

In addition, a new letter was sent this morning directly addressing the BMA Board of Trustees and urging them to revoke the decision. The missive came from Laurence Eisenstein, a former museum board member who led the effort to write the first letter to Maryland’s Attorney General and Secretary of State on October 14.

“As trustees, you are now in a leadership position,” Eisenstein writes. “You can correct the egregious deaccessioning errors and establish a positive precedent in which the BMA board shows careful thought, wise stewardship, and immediate action based on the new information that has been presented.”

The institution has fielded criticism from both the local and national art community in the two weeks since it announced plans to sell three paintings from its collection: Brice Marden’s “3” (1987-1988); Clyfford Still’s “1957-G” (1957); and Andy Warhol’s “The Last Supper” (1986), which are together expected to bring in $65 million. The deaccessioning is intended to support staff salaries, equity programs, and new acquisitions of underrepresented artists.