Mrs. Wilsey's fine art - Page 3

Wealthy socialite enlists Fine Arts Museums staff to help with her personal art collection

Fine Arts Museums staff helped ship "The Pink Blouse" by Henri Matisse. It belongs to Board of Trustees President Dede Wilsey.

The code of ethics at the Boston Science Museum put it quite clearly: "When Museum of Science Trustees seek staff assistance for personal needs they should not expect that such help will be rendered to an extent greater than that available to a member of the general public in similar circumstances or with similar needs."

It's unlikely that a member of the general public who wanted to ship artworks would have the staff of the de Young at his or her disposal.

The Guardian telephoned a number believed to be Wilsey's seeking comment, and was greeted with a receptionist who answered with the bright greeting, "Wilsey residence!" After being informed that Wilsey was traveling, we requested comment from her via email, explaining that documentation appeared to show use of museum time to manage her personal art collection. She had not responded by press time.

Ken Garcia, press spokesman for the Museums, told us "there are situations in which the museum facilitates loans to the Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (COFAM), loans to other museums, and in other ways assists with the care and handling of artworks for private collectors, including trustees when there is significant value to our museum." He added: "The reasons for museum staff to have handled the board president's private art collection reflect standard practice for exhibitions and loans."

He noted: "Reproductions of artworks (2D) are routinely requested by collectors when the loan of a picture conflicts with the lenders need for privacy, represents a potential security issue, or interrupts the continuity of the enjoyment of a collection. FAMSF provides for the photographic reproduction of artworks as an appreciative acknowledgment of the negotiated loan. Mrs. Wilsey has on occasion requested a reproduction be made of a loaned picture but on each occasion has generously assumed responsibility for the associated costs."

Maybe it's all perfectly fine and normal, "standard practice." But there's a lot of it going on, and some is at the very least curious.