PRINT Summer 2010

András Szántó

NOTHING SAYS “I have arrived” like a seat on a prominent museum board. This has been true at least since the days when Edith Wharton chronicled the rise of America’s industrialist moguls. And so it remains in our own, somewhat tarnished gilded age.

Yet much confusion clouds what museum boards actually do and how their leadership should be judged. This is partly because recent public discussion about trustees has tended to be one-sided. The art press is habitually obsessed with cases of alleged self-dealing among museum trustees, some of whom—surprise!—are also art collectors. This is not to belittle such potential transgressions: As a January 2010 missive from the Association of Art Museum Directors alerted, “Museums must be mindful of showing works that may soon be destined for the marketplace.” Even so, the jury is out on whether and how trustees might actually be gaining from their museum

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