Museum Legal Counsel

Sullivan`s Art and Museum Law Group brings together lawyers with extensive experience on matters involving museums, artists and other arts institutions. Our team combines skills and experience in these areas in general, with a basic knowledge of museums in particular, which allows us to understand the challenges and opportunities of museums, artists and collectors. Our professionals include a Best Lawyers` Boston Non-Profit / Charities Lawyer of the Year; a former curatorial professional responsible for exhibition work and adherence to the Association of Art Museum Directors provenance guidelines; and experienced IP litigators, among others. In her second year, Alexis Sandler took an art history course in `99 with professors Irene Winter and Norman Bryson. It was there that she first heard that “art has rights” (Winter said) and began to think about becoming a lawyer “for art.” Today, she is Associate General Counsel at the Museum of Modern Art, but her first step was to join the student committee of the Harvard Art Museums. She was appointed co-chair and had the opportunity to plan student events and have some power and input on certain aspects of the museum`s programming. In its 50th year, the conference will reflect on both how museum jurisprudence has developed and its future. Featured sessions include instruction on the most important legal issues of the year, including: Work is everything she imagined. “I`m sitting in the same building as the MoMA exhibition galleries. I am surrounded by art every day. Her work spans all departments of the museum, from education, exhibition planning and information technology to finance, human resources and security. Sandler is also a member of MoMA`s Accessibility Working Group, an interdepartmental group that develops ways to make MoMA even more accessible to people with disabilities. Each case brings its own set of challenges.

Performance art, for example, “can involve multiple artistic mediums and, to complicate matters, the artists or performers themselves are a single medium. A single performance artwork can raise legal issues related to privacy, copyright, contracts, visas, accessibility, employment, etc. Vomit! The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is an independent federal agency that promotes, supports, and strengthens museums, libraries, and related organizations in the United States through grants, research, and policy development. Overall, IMLS funding programs aim to achieve the following four objectives: (1) to support learning and literacy for all ages through museums and libraries; (2) strengthen the capacity of museums and libraries to improve the well-being of their communities; (3) make strategic investments that improve access to information, ideas and networks by libraries and museums; and (4) strategically align its resources and relationships to support libraries and museums nationally. Representative programs include: national leadership grants to support pilot projects in museums and libraries; State library grants to improve access to information throughout the country; Grants from the Native American Library Service to support library programs used by Native American tribes and Alaska Native villages; grants to support institutional evaluation of collections management and public programs in museums; and conservation grants to support the preservation of manuscripts, books and artifacts in museums across the country. The exceptional program, prestigious faculty and unparalleled networking events are hallmarks of this signature conference – a must for museum professionals for 50 years! Lori Breslauer is currently General Counsel of the Field Museum. She advises the museum on a variety of issues, including collection/cultural property management, exhibitions, educational initiatives, business matters, intellectual property and insurance. In this role, she assists the museum`s repatriation office in complying with the federal repatriation law and in responding to requests for the restitution of cultural property from Native Americans and indigenous peoples around the world. As much as she loved her job, she knew she had to choose between continuing or giving up to pursue her original goal. “The biggest challenge was being brave enough to get me out of a perfectly good job and try my luck at changing careers,” she says. A reintroduction to a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for whom she had interned as a teenager, inspired her to seize this opportunity.

Because New York is “the center of the art world,” she enrolled in NYU`s master`s program in museum studies. There, she interned at the Museum of American Finance, where she worked after graduation. When a position in MoMA`s legal department became available a few years later, Sandler applied. Every spring since 1973, OGC has sponsored a three-day course with the American Law Institute – Continuing Legal Education (ALI-CLE). The course is attended by museum administrators, administrators and lawyers. As a small but important office, the Office of the General Counsel offers articling students the opportunity to get directly involved in the wide range of legal and policy issues that come into the firm. We hope to create a challenging and interesting experience for an intern. Our “small law firm” environment allows an articling student to experience a wide range of administrative law issues common to all federal organizations, as well as issues unique to the Institute that arise from its mission to develop museums and libraries and meaningfully support these cultural resources. This course provides focused instruction on the main legal and business issues facing museum professionals. In-house lawyers, museum directors, other museum and not-for-profit professionals, and external consultants participate each year and gain knowledge that will inform their decisions and strategies for years to come. The conference is often sold out, so register early to reserve your spot! The Office of the Legal Counsel (OGC) protects the legal interests of the Smithsonian Institution.