Sale of 268 Pieces from L.A Meyer Museum Postponed Last Minute Due To Widespread Objection

Questionable reasons motivating the deaccessioning make many hope the sale will be cancelled altogether

by Agnese Oliveri | 29 October 2020


The L.A. Meyer Museum for Islamic Art is located in Katamon, a beautiful part of West Jerusalem. I remember visiting it in September last year and being incredibly impressed by their Islamic collection and the beautiful Breguet watches. When I read, about a week ago, that they intended to auction off 268 pieces, I was astounded. The auction was supposed to take place on the 27th and 28th of October. It did not take very long to find out that this feeling was widespread, not just by Islamic art historians, but by employees of the museum and Israeli institutional bodies. Luckily, due to the outcry in high places, the auction was postponed the night before it was supposed to take place. The sale indeed ignited questions on the ethics of deaccessioning and on the particular motives behind this move. Decisions will be re-evaluated, and the President of Israel himself was opposing the sale.

The museum was founded in 1974 by Vera Salomon, in memory of her professor Leo Aryeh Meyer, scholar of Islamic arts. A good part of the collection has been a result of the curation of Richard Ettinghausen. Prominent scholar, his name is more than familiar to any student of Islamic art. His involvement testifies already to the importance of the pieces in the collection, picked by one of the most important academics for their uniqueness and fundamental role in their artistic moment. Salomon set up an endowment for the museum to be independent, however questions arose this October as to