Reply To: Board/Trustee Collecting

Ron Kley

If  the collector stands to gain by loaning items to the museum (e.g., by making the items better known and p0tentially more valuable among collectors, and by enabling them to be subsequently sold at a higher price because they have a bit of institutional cachet attached as a result of their museumm exhibition, then there is a conflict. If the items loaned were “generic” objects of little or no market value, the situation would be signifi9cantly different. Remember, the fact than an individual and an institution may have interests in the same object constitutes a convergence and a commonality of interests…not necessarily a conflict.

In the example given, the collector is described as being “affiliated” with the museum. The nature of the affiliation also needs to be considered. If the individual had been a board member or trustee, he/she would have had a legal “fiduciary” responsibility to act in the institution’s best interest and to scrupulously avoid conflicts of interest. If the collector was “affiliated” as a staff member, a volunteer, a contractor or concessionaire, the avoidance of conflict would be a matter of personal ethics rather than one of legal obligation.

Ron Kley