Responsible deaccessioning is recognized as a healthy activity for non-profit collecting organizations. Deaccessioning allows organizations to refine collections and ensure they continue to serve the mission of the organization. In addition, when materials that are no longer relevant are deaccessioned, resources like storage space and funding can be directed towards storing and caring for materials that are used by the organization and the community. To assist non-profits with this activity the New York Board of Regents established guidelines for responsible deaccessioning in 2011. These rules delineate allowable reasons for deaccession, and show how funds gained from deaccessions may be spent.
In July 2024, VSW’s 50+ year Master of Fine Arts program with SUNY will close. Due to the closure of the program and other factors, VSW’s mission has shifted. VSW’s new mission is to nurture experimental and expansive approaches to photography and media arts, and to build community among artists and the public through exhibitions, publications and residencies. In addition to a new mission, VSW will be moving to a smaller facility in 2024. VSW’s new home is better suited to the organization’s programs and activities, is fully accessible, and has improved HVAC systems to better care for the remaining collections.
In response to these changes in mission and storage capacity, VSW will deaccession certain materials that no longer serve the mission or programs of the organization. The organization will follow our board-approved deaccession policy and the laws of New York State throughout the process.
VSW will retain materials related to the history of VSW and its alumni, the Artist Book collection, 16mm film collection, historic video collection related to our region and state, copyright free image study collections, and a reduced research library of 8,000 books and periodicals.
For more information on VSW’s deaccession process please contact Jessica Johnston, Executive Director, VSW.
FAQ on Deaccessions
What is deaccessioning?
Deaccessioning is the process to officially remove (through sale or other means) an object from the permanent collection of a museum or other collecting organization. Here is a link to more information and resources on deaccessioning in New York State.
For what reasons can an organization in New York State deaccession an object from its collection?
(i) the item is inconsistent with the mission of the institution as set forth in its mission statement;
(ii) the item has failed to retain its identity;
(iii) the item is redundant;
(iv) the item’s preservation and conservation needs are beyond the capacity of the institution to provide;
(v) the item is deaccessioned to accomplish refinement of collections;
(vi) it has been established that the item is inauthentic;
(vii) the institution is repatriating the item or returning the item to its rightful owner;
(viii) the institution is returning the item to the donor, or the donor’s heirs or assigns, to fulfill donor restrictions relating to the item which the institution is no longer able to meet;
(ix) the item presents a hazard to people or other collection items; and/or
(x) the item has been lost or stolen and has not been recovered.
How can funds from the sale of deaccessioned items be used in New York State?
Proceeds derived from the deaccessioning of any property from an institution’s collection are restricted in a separate fund to be used only for the acquisition, preservation, protection, or care of collections.
How will VSW use funds from the sale of deaccessioned items?
All proceeds from deaccessioned items will go into the VSW endowment held at the Rochester Area Community Foundation. Interest derived from those funds will be restricted for direct care and preservation of the remaining collections at VSW.
Will VSW be notifying the original donors of the items to be deaccessioned?
VSW is making an effort to contact donors to let them know of the changes in the organization and our plan to deaccession items from the collection. Due to time and resources we will not be able to communicate with every donor, but encourage anyone with questions to contact Jessica Johnston.
What is VSW deaccessioning?
Check back for links to view our yearly deaccession list that we will provide to the public and New York State. In the meantime, if you have any questions about specific objects please contact Jessica Johnston.
What is VSW Keeping?
VSW will retain materials related to the history of VSW and its alumni, the Artist Book collection of over 5000 books, 16mm film collection, historic video collection related to our region and state, copyright free image study collections, and a reduced research library of 8,000 books and periodicals.
Why is VSW deaccessioning items from its collection?
VSW is entering a new chapter. With the closure of the MFA program, our mission and purpose has shifted and we will be moving to a smaller facility. Our programming will change and expand, and certain collections or holdings no longer serve the mission or programs of the organization. As we move into this new era for VSW, we will responsibly deaccession certain items, in accordance with New York State law and New York Board of Regents established guidelines.
I donated an item to VSW. Can the donated item be returned to me?
VSW will not be returning collection object(s) to donors, unless the object(s) were transferred to VSW with restrictions that specify the object be returned if deaccessioned. Please contact Jessica Johnston to discuss if you have further questions.
I would like to donate work to the VSW collection. Are you still collecting?
Please contact VSW’s Curator, Tara Nelson, if you are interested in making a donation to the VSW collection. VSW is not currently accepting book or photography donations.