A bill to prevent cultural institutions from selling artworks to cover costs has been opposed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other organizations—and it has pretty much died in the State Legislature. Museums generally "deaccession" works of art to use the proceeds to buy other works of art, and the Board of Regents already prohibits some museums from selling art to cover other costs. However, the bill would have made the practice, which the Times describes as a "misuse of funds that jeopardizes preserving cultural heritage as a public trust," illegal across the board.

Michael Botwinick, director of the Hudson River Museum, says the issue is so concerning because letting museums sell works to pay expenses will make them believe "the Rembrandts in the collection are no different than the IBM stock." James C. Dawson, former chairman of the Regents’ cultural education committee, agreed that "Museums hold their collections in the public trust. They should not be selling those off for operating funds or to pay debts." Doing such would essentially turn the museums into large, government-funded galleries.

The Board of Regents wants to make their prohibitions permanent, but they would only apply to state-funded museums, not museums like the Met which operate under other legislative charters. Director Thomas P. Campbell assures anyone that's worried that their deaccessioning process is "tightly governed by its trustees, subject to review by the State Attorney General, and requiring that funds from deaccessioning be used only for the purpose of acquiring other works of art," but if money gets tight, there's nothing stopping them. The National Academy Museum already sold two Hudson River School paintings to cover some expenses in 2008. Maybe they should just downsize those apartments.