Memphis College of Art Plans Reduction of Holdings
Over the past 75 years, the Memphis College of Art has amassed more then 550 pieces of art, keeping some of the very best on display. The remainder of the collection, however, has generally been kept in air-conditioned storage for years.
Recently, in May of 2012, the Memphis College Board of Trustees unanimously decided to sell off selected works, in an effort to transfer some of the art from warehouses to galleries: “We’re not a museum,” explains College President Ron Jones. “And if I took you on a tour, you would be shocked at the condition of many of these pieces. As we started looking at the budget, one of the logical steps was ‘sell it.’ Why should we have 550 pieces of art by people from the past when we have faculty and students who are artists, and there’s a need to raise revenue?”
The collection in question was made up primarily of donations from faculty members, local artists, or other benefactors. There are a few sentimental pieces that the college has pledged to keep, notably pieces from former faulty members Burton Callicott, Ted Faiers and Veda Reed, and over the next several years, the College will analyze each piece to determine which will stay.
Like many schools and businesses in the wake of the U.S.’ recent economic fluctuation, the Memphis College of Art did declare a state of financial exigency earlier this year, but a recent statement from the College explains that the art reduction and the school’s finances are unrelated: “While any additional funds will certainly assist the College in support of its strategic objectives, there is no pressing urgency for this initiative to take place.”
In the same statement, the College explains that the few pieces that will remain on display will be selected with a priority on showcasing the best work coming out of the College: “…it is the intention of MCA to always display some of the best examples of work by former faculty and students.”
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