What’s a city to do when it loses parts of its public art collection?  Why, higher an art detective of course!

What seems like the plot of a bad Scooby Doo episode is actually the actual response of the San Francisco Arts Commission after a grand jury discovered that portions of the city’s 4,000 piece public art collection had disappeared.  

But before you picture a supervillian making off with the Statue of Liberty, it’s important to note that not all of the collection is the typical statues and monuments that we usually think of when discussing public art.  It also includes some 2,500 paintings, lithographs, jewelry, and other movable works that have spent time on different public buildings. 

Much of the loss stems not from actual theft, but from the fact that the massive collection is managed by only two staff members who are charged with maintaining and growing the collection.  The Director of Cultural Affairs for the Arts Commission explained to the Huffington Post that there’s a backlog of issues dating back to the 1950s that still haven’t been handled, and that the $90 million arrangement of art materials is simply too much for two people to handle.

But San Francisco isn’t going to let a little loss get in the way of acquiring more art.  While they have decided to temporarily stop accepting public donations, they’ll continue to acquire works under the Art Enrichment Ordinance.

What’s a city…

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