Museums and the Law

by Paula Newton May 11, 2017

Museum professionals and lawyers met at the Belo Mansion in Dallas. Image via

Every spring, museum professionals and lawyers get together at a conference called “Legal Issues in Museum Administration,” organized by the American Law Institute and cosponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. This year’s meeting was held in Dallas and The Art Newspaper today published a summary of the concerns museums face.

According to the Smithsonian’s web site, the highlights of the conference were to be:

Case studies on specialized art contracts
Institutional ethics and private collecting
External threats to the museum: terrorism and “open carry” laws
Hot topics in intellectual property
Issues in privacy law and practical applications
Dealing with federal entities
In-kind gifts and valuation of donations of technology services

The article in The Art Newspaper gives some very interesting examples about the legalities involved in commissioning public art, performance work, and the trickiness of dealing with private collectors and trustees.

Give it a read.

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