‘Tis the season to give charitable donations—for tax reasons as much as philanthropic ones. But it’s not always simple to give an artwork or an art collection to a museum.
For most art museums, receiving donations of objects is relatively easy. The person making the gift turns over the items along with “a deed of gift, transferring title from the donor to the institution,” according to Ralph Lerner, a long-time New York City art lawyer and art adviser. The principal complicating issue is whether the gift is made right then and there or as a bequest and, if the donor is the artist, whether or not copyright (the right to reproduce images of the artwork) is included with the donation.