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Forums » Arkansas » Was reading about the Walmart heiress' museum in Arkansas

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Harold

Was reading about the Walmart heiress' museum in Arkansas

by Harold »

Has anyone been? Is it worth a road trip or just a vanity project?

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Pauline Frommer

RE: Was reading about the Walmart heiress' museum in Arkansas

by Pauline Frommer »

The museum is in Bentonville, Arkansas and its gotten uniformly good reviews. Its called Crystal Bridges. You can find more about it at http://crystalbridges.org/

Cordially,

Pauline

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KaraJane

RE: Was reading about the Walmart heiress' museum in Arkansas

by KaraJane »

I've been! It's terrrific actually. Beautiful architecture and one of the finest collections of American art anywhere. Plus the docents are terrific, really enthusiastic and knowledgable. Highly recommended!

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PHeymont

RE: Was reading about the Walmart heiress' museum in Arkansas

by PHeymont »

It is worth noting, however, that while money can create an important museum anywhere, it's not without cost of other sorts, or controversy. One of the important acquisitions by the museum--not yet on dispay--is the Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern European and American Art.

This collection was donated to historically-black Fisk University in Nashville in 1949 by Stieglitz' widow, the artist Georgia O'Keeffe, on condition that it not be divided, not be sold, and always be displayed. It has been a source of pride, and a focus of teaching at the university. However, a few years ago, the trustees began to look at the collection as a way out of financial problems, and made a deal to sell the collection to the Waltons/Walmart for $30 million.

That brought on a lot of controversy (and several lawsuits, including one from O'Keeffe's estate seeking to block the sale). It also raised feelings about the history of rich white people and poor black people. The lawsuits were resolved and the transaction now takes the form of 50% ownership, and the collection to spend alternate two-year periods at Fisk and at Bentonville.

Among the questions raised by all this--and they are not the only ones, by far--is the effect on future donations to museums and others by donors with conditions, such as O'Keefe's. For anyone who thinks this is a one-off...take a look at the vultures now circling over the collections of the Detroit of Arts as the city goes through bankruptcy.

Here's a link to the Fisk/Walmart story: http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/news/story.jhtml?id=388000021

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drfumblefinger

RE: Was reading about the Walmart heiress' museum in Arkansas

by drfumblefinger »

I am not a lawyer, PHeymont, but anyone making a donation can easily make it an ironclad gift.  You clearly express your desires in terms the organization has to agree to legally.  For example, you stipulate where the collection is to be displayed and if this request is not honored, the collection is revoked and returned to the estate.  Valuable gifts like a collection of O'Keefe paintings should no be open ended, or you end up with something like the Fisk University situation.

Detroit's fiscal mess goes well beyond a few pieces of art in a museum.  The politicans have completely destroyed what was once one of the greatest, most modern and innovative cities in the world.  There is no painless way out of their situation. 

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PHeymont

RE: Was reading about the Walmart heiress' museum in Arkansas

by PHeymont »

Actually, not so easy to make it ironclad. The 1949 lawyers believed they had done so, and that a sale would trigger a return of the entire collection to the O'Keeffe museum. The 2007 lawyers for the O'Keeffe estate contended that the deal was clear and ironclad; the university's (and Walmart's) lawyers made a number of arguments that there were ways out.

Among the issues were whether the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, formerly known as the O'Keeffee Foundation, had standing to sue, since the original gift was made by O'Keeffe herself, from the estate of her husband, whose sole heir she was. The Foundation, and hence its new form, the Museum, inherited her entire estate, and claimed to be, therefore, the entity with standing to sue, and a claim for reversion. That status was upheld by the NY courts, which had jurisdiction over the original gift and agreement.

 The legal trail is too complicated for me to lay out, since I also am not one...but here are some links. 

http://www.artnews.com/2008/01/08/judge-upholds-legality-of-lawsuit-okeeffe-museum-v-fisk-university/

http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/news/story.jhtml?id=189200012

 

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drfumblefinger

RE: Was reading about the Walmart heiress' museum in Arkansas

by drfumblefinger »

I still think that the proper contract would have been ironclad.  I suspect that Ms O'Keefe likely never thought a sale of her paintings was a possibility and didn't push her legal team as hard as someone today might have.

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Darren Kap

RE: Was reading about the Walmart heiress' museum in Arkansas

by Darren Kap »

We were there just a month ago and loved it! Highly recommended.

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