In an interesting article posted in the Wall Street Journal two days ago, an unusual observation and subsequent discussion is brought to light. In recent times, many art collectors have decided to donate their works of art to smaller non-profit organizations such as hospitals, libraries, retirement homes, etc instead of museums. Many of the donors said that they decided to do this because if their works were donated to a museum, they would most likely be put in a large warehouse for storage, where they would get little installation exposure. This phenomenon seems like a great idea, especially when there are monetary, societal, and emotional benefits coupled with little costs associated with these decisions.
Jessica R. Finch, art program manager at Boston Children’s Hospital says, “studies have shown that artwork helps to reduce stress and boredom, reduces blood pressure and increases white-blood-cell count, all of which are factors in the healing process.”
Donors also receive significant full fair market value tax write-offs for their donations, depending on certain stipulations of course.
One cost associated with this is the insurance costs for these non-profits increasing with the acquisition of such works and the security associated with the pieces contact with mentally handicapped individuals in a retirement homes (a concern cited in the article).
Collecting art for non-profits also can have very significant benefits monetarily if the value of a piece donated to their organization increases dramatically such as a hospital’s purchase of a Milton Avery piece in the 1950’s.
While you can’t go wrong donating your works of art to a museum, there are certain social welfare benefits associated with donating to other organizations such as these non-profits that wouldn’t be realized if a piece is simply sitting in storage.