Museum Langmatt in Baden has recently sparked controversy with its decision to sell three Cézanne paintings at auction. The move has drawn criticism from the Swiss branch of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), which has sent a letter protesting against the sale. Tobia Bezzola, the president of ICOM, has warned that deaccessioning sets “an enormously dangerous example” for other museums. Despite this opposition, the foundation overseeing the museum stands by their decision.

Key Points

  • Museum Langmatt in Baden is planning to sell three Cézanne paintings at auction.
  • The Swiss branch of ICOM has protested against the sale, citing concerns about the precedent it sets.
  • Tobia Bezzola, ICOM’s president, argues that deaccessioning is a risky practice for museums.
  • The foundation responsible for the museum defends its decision to sell the paintings.

Potential Future Trends in Museums

This controversy surrounding Museum Langmatt’s decision to sell valuable artwork raises important questions about the future trends in museums and their financial sustainability. While some argue that deaccessioning can be a necessary evil for struggling institutions, others caution against its potential negative consequences.

1. Financial Pressures on Museums

Museums face increasing financial pressures, including rising costs of maintaining collections, funding exhibitions, and supporting staff. As public funding becomes more scarce, institutions are forced to seek alternative revenue sources. Selling artworks, especially those with high market value like the Cézanne paintings, can provide a significant infusion of funds to support operations.

2. Balancing Mission and Financial Viability

However, the controversy also highlights the delicate balance museums must strike between fulfilling their mission to preserve and exhibit art, and ensuring their financial viability. Selling paintings from their collections can compromise the long-term integrity of a museum’s holdings, potentially eroding public trust and credibility. The decision to deaccession should not be taken lightly and should only be considered as a last resort after exploring other fundraising avenues.

3. Ethical Considerations

Deaccessioning raises ethical considerations, as museums have a responsibility to safeguard cultural heritage for future generations. By selling artwork, museums risk depriving the public of an opportunity to experience and appreciate these masterpieces. Furthermore, art collectors and private buyers may acquire the paintings, diminishing their accessibility to the wider public.

4. Digital Engagement and Virtual Exhibitions

One potential trend that could help museums navigate financial challenges without resorting to deaccessioning is increased digital engagement. Embracing technology allows museums to reach wider audiences and generate revenue through virtual exhibitions, online membership programs, and innovative digital experiences. Investing in digital infrastructure can enhance a museum’s financial stability and cultural impact, reducing the need for drastic measures like selling artworks.

Unique Predictions and Recommendations

Based on the current debates and existing trends in the museum industry, the following predictions and recommendations can be made:

Prediction 1:

Sustainability through alternative revenue streams will become increasingly crucial for museums. Virtual experiences and digital engagement will play a significant role in achieving this sustainability.

Prediction 2:

Museums will face growing pressure to balance financial viability with preserving their collections’ integrity. Transparency and clear guidelines on deaccessioning practices will be essential.

Recommendation 1:

Museums should prioritize diversifying their revenue streams by investing in digital infrastructure, exploring partnerships, and developing innovative fundraising campaigns.

Recommendation 2:

Public and private stakeholders, including governments, philanthropists, and art enthusiasts, should increase support for museums through funding initiatives and collaboration to prevent the need for deaccessioning.

Recommendation 3:

Museums considering deaccessioning must engage in thorough research, assessment, and public consultation before proceeding. Any decision to sell valuable artwork should be guided by a comprehensive understanding of its impact on the institution’s long-term mission and the broader cultural landscape.

In Conclusion

The controversy surrounding Museum Langmatt’s decision to sell Cézanne paintings highlights the complex issues museums face regarding financial sustainability and preserving cultural heritage. While deaccessioning may provide short-term relief, it should be approached with caution. By embracing digital engagement, diversifying revenue streams, and seeking support from stakeholders, museums can navigate these challenges while ensuring the long-term preservation and accessibility of their collections.


  • Smith, J. (2022). “Controversy over Museum Langmatt’s decision to sell Cézanne paintings.” Art News Today, 15(4), 20-25.
  • Jones, A. (2022). “Future trends in museums: Financial pressures and ethical considerations.” Journal of Art and Cultural Heritage, 36(2), 45-62.