Definition of deaccession in US English:



[with object]
  • Officially remove (an item) from the listed holdings of a library, museum, or art gallery, typically in order to sell it to raise funds.

    • ‘Even museums were obliged to contribute to this effort by deaccessioning part of their icon collections.’
    • ‘To help purchase the work, the MFA deaccessioned three related works - two Degas pastels and a Renoir painting - which sold at Sotheby's May auction of Impressionist and Modern Art for a total of $16.2 million.’
    • ‘These drawings, which Sargent's sisters had given to the Gorcoran Gallery of Art in 1928, were among ninety drawings that the Gorcoran deaccessioned in 1960.’
    • ‘Earlier this year, New York's Museum of Modern Art decided to deaccession 1,000 photographs by Eugene Atget, with an estimated value of $20 million.’
    • ‘The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has deaccessioned this Portrait of a Courtier by Jan Mostaert after concluding that it was looted by the Nazis.’
    • ‘Then, in a mini-scandal that same year, the Guggenheim deaccessioned 24 paintings, including a number by Scarlett, Bauer and Rebay, prompting charges that the museum was selling off its history.’
    • ‘One recently discovered gateleg table has the accession number ‘15651LLLJJJ’; however, the researchers are uncertain what museum deaccessioned it.’
    • ‘In the run-up to the mixed-lot sale, Sotheby's held two ‘single owner’ auctions in which 296 works consigned by these two institutions were deaccessioned.’
    • ‘Considerable excitement, however, was generated by six works being deaccessioned by the Museum of Modern Art to support its acquisitions fund.’
    • ‘The deaccessioned works, they explained, were sold privately to collectors, not at public auction.’
    • ‘The USAF Museum prepared a list that shows thousands of items were deaccessioned during his tenure.’
    • ‘The cabinet was deaccessioned in 1929, a victim of twentieth-century disdain for the later nineteenth century.’
    • ‘It was acquired by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, which decided to deaccession it last year.’
    • ‘Among her purchases were two royal door panels of Saint Basil and Saint John Chrysostom that had been deaccessioned from the Tretiakov Gallery.’
    • ‘The National Gallery in London retains the largest holding of his works, including the famous Annunciation, deaccessioned from the Brera in 1820.’


  • The official removal of an item from a library, museum, or art gallery in order to sell it.

    ‘in England deaccession has been adopted by local authorities to offset spending cuts’
    count noun ‘the spate of spectacular deaccessions being conducted by American museums’
    • ‘‘We're not at this stage, but clearly if we are going to conserve any works then maybe it will be something this council funds through deaccession,’ Mr Laws said.’
    • ‘A decision to return has been made in another case (the Benevento Missal), although there will have to be a change in the law to allow deaccession.’
    • ‘In the last decade numerous deaccessions have quietly been made in order to raise money for institutional support or facilities maintenance.’
    • ‘The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announces the deaccession of 42 artworks from its permanent collection, which will be sold in a public auction at Sotheby's New York this month.’
    • ‘This collection numbers approximately 10,000 objects, and is continually expanding by donation, purchase, and deaccession from other institutions.’
    • ‘The Office of the Curator will notify the President of all deaccessions.’
    • ‘The pending deaccession will leave only a handful of minor artworks and decorative objects.’
    • ‘Professional guidelines set forth by the Association of Art Museum Directors state that museums should use deaccession proceeds solely for acquisitions, not operations.’
    • ‘He denied any link between the auction house's support of ‘Sensation’ and any role it might play in auctioning future Brooklyn deaccessions.’
    • ‘The secret sale of ‘The Cello Player’ for an undisclosed amount to an undisclosed purchaser is surely a deaccession that was governed by ‘exigencies of the moment’.’
    • ‘The deaccession of photographs provides funds for the museum that allow it to maintain a policy of acquisition through tough financial periods.’
    • ‘At a time when libraries are more and more strapped for funds, I suppose more deaccessions are inevitable.’
    • ‘A deaccession of over 1,000 paintings, statues and other objects from the Dutch national art collection is getting a good deal of attention.’