By: Renee Montgomery
Recently, San Francisco was the site of the annual ALI-ABA seminar for museums, a 2 ½ day discussion of new developments and practices regarding various points of law affecting museums, sponsored by the American Law Institute – American Bar Association. Day 1 of the meeting focused on intellectual property, copyright, trademark and web issues, highlighted by a presentation of the Google Goggles project at the Getty Museum and new mobile collection webpages. Day 2 revolved around physical or facility concerns such as taxes, ADA compliance, charitable giving, and fine arts insurance, with the final day concentrating on global and international topics, such as immunity, SITES, and INS requirements, to cite a few subjectss on the rich program. Several authorities from western institutions and law firms served as panelists, e.g., Natural History Museum of L.A. County, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, LACMA. Most interesting were the summaries of true litigation, legislation, and tax cases with which various museums have been involved over the last year – their status or outcome. Museums can look to these situations as precedents or important lessons. An account of SFMOMA’s negotiations re the long-term loan of the Fisher Family Collection was also fascinating.
Stealing the show though were the local museums hosting evening receptions – SFMOMA with its remarkable Rivera’s, Tamayo’s and other modern masterpieces, and the California Academy of Science with its fun rainforest environment. Special kudos to Executive Director Nina Simon who described at the meeting the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History’s cutting-edge use of interactivity in public spaces, including “pop-up museums” around the community. Once again the West leads the country in experimentation and trend-setting ideas.
The 2013 “Legal Issues” meeting will be held in Chicago in March.
Renee Montgomery is Assistant Director of Risk Management at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where she has worked in various capacities since 1979. She holds an MA in Art History, various certificates in international business and fundraising, and has served as Chair of the AAM Registrars Committee, and on the AAM board.