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Two Museums Tried to Sell Art. Only One Caught Grief About it.

Two museums planned to sell works from their collections at a Sotheby’s auction on Wednesday night.One moved forward seamlessly, with the Brooklyn Museum reaping almost $20 million for seven works by artists including Henri Matisse, Joan Miró and Claude Monet.The other, the Baltimore Museum of Art, decided to pull its paintings — by Clyfford Still and Brice Marden — two hours before the heavily criticized sale after discussions with the Association of Art Museum Directors, a professional organization advancing best practices in the field.If the disparate reactions to the two sales is a bit bewildering, welcome to the world of deaccessioning, the often byzantine process by which museums get rid of items that no longer serve their long-term interests, whether by sale or donation.It’s comm...

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