The good folks at ALI-ABA awarded a scholarship to attend Legal Issues in Museum Administration, three days on the ethics, policy, and legal issues facing museum registrars, CEOs, boards, and legal counsels. Of course, lawyers expect the rich intellectual rigor of this presentation style and supporting material, but I am in awe.
It is old school, yeah, but when you get Lawrence Berger, PMA, and Frederick Strober, Saul Ewing, LLP engaging in legal theater over Joint Ownership Agreements of Collections, mesmerizing. Not kidding. Another long tradition are the case studies created by one brilliant lawyer and then dissected by a couple of others -- sometimes funny, sometimes surprising, always real.
There are legislation and litigation updates, presentations on the questions presented to the courts and to the practitioners over the year. One federal registrar was told this year by her overly cautious and misinformed supervisor that she would no longer be allowed to electronically record artists birth date or phone number because of new privacy laws! Now there another one for annals!
The time includes serious consideration about endowment management, healthy tensions between board and management, negotiating artists rights, conflict of interest and other governance policies, special collections, managing problem gifts, and gift acceptance policies.
While at the conference, my twitter feed delivered Historically Hardcore, the latest Smithsonian copyright infringement. The SI lawyers had already sent the cease demands but the funny ad campaign by a student had already gone viral. Check it out.
The image above is of the Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery where a conference reception was held. Second night were were at the Phillips Collection. Both spectacular receptions.