“Deaccessioning: In the late 1980s the art market experienced an enormous book and prices skyrocketed for all artworks, but especially for Impressionist and Modern paintings. Acquisition budgets at most museums could not keep up with the new prices. In order to acquire new and important works, some museums resorted to the sale of what were considered secondary or redundant works in their collections. The auctioning off of several works then supplied the funds to buy one or two paintings which could fill gaps in the existing collection. Deaccessioning was controversial, raising questions as to whether such decisions reflected current tastes and would stand the test of time.”
Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.