Deaccession 2016


The Cheekwood Museum of Art Permanent Collection was founded in 1959 with generous donations from private individuals and the holdings of the former Nashville Museum of Art. Over the past 50 years, the Collection has grown to include more than 8,000 works of art that span from African tribal ethnographic objects to large-scale Contemporary outdoor sculpture. This encyclopedic approach to collecting brought Cheekwood to a critical juncture in understanding what is the identity and purpose of the Collection.

As part of Cheekwood’s five-year strategic plan (2012 – 2016), the Permanent Collection was reviewed by a series of nationally-recognized, external specialists in fine art and decorative art in the hope that Cheekwood could establish Collection core-strengths and develop a defined Collecting Plan, the first in institutional history.

Through a rigorous and detailed review process, the specialists worked with Cheekwood staff to establish the strengths of the Museum Permanent Collection as American art between 1910 and 1970 and Contemporary outdoor sculpture.  With the identification of these strengths and the Collecting Plan established, the decision was made to deaccession works of art and objects that fall outside the parameters of the new Permanent Collection focus. In December of 2015, the Cheekwood Board of Trustees unanimously approved a list of works slated as appropriate for deaccessioning and thereafter available for transfer to other institutions or sale at auction.

In accordance with standards of the American Alliance of Museums, Cheekwood has offered works of art on the deaccession list for transfer to appropriate institutions that have connections to or missions that fall in-line with works of art represented on the Cheekwood list. These institutions include:

  • Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, TN
  • West Tennessee Regional Art Center, Humboldt, TN
  • Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, Clarksville, TN
  • Among others

There are a series of objects that are a part of this deaccession initiative that have been identified as having cultural affiliation or origins with federally recognized Native American tribes. Cheekwood has taken action to connect with these tribes to make them aware of these objects in our holdings and offer appropriate pieces for repatriation. The precedent for this action was set forth by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), which created standards and procedures to protect these culturally significant artifacts. Cheekwood is in full compliance with the obligations outlined by NAGPRA. To learn more about NAGPRA, please visit www.nps.gov/nagpra.

The remaining works will be sold at auction through an established partnership between Cheekwood, Sotheby’s and Stair Gallery auctions. Funds accrued from the sale of objects will be used for both the acquisition of works of art that enhance the Permanent Collection, and the preservation of the existing Permanent Collection objects for decades to come.

For questions related to the Permanent Collection, Collecting Plan or the 2016 deaccession initiative please contact museum@cheekwood.org.

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