I am writing to implore the Baltimore community, which I was privileged to serve for 12 years and to which I remain devoted, to support the preservation of the George A. Lucas Collection as an integral part of the community's cultural legacy.
The Baltimore Museum of Art has for more than 60 years served as steward for most of the collection, expending vast amounts of energy and resources on its preservation and administration. Several pieces have for about 50 years been lovingly cared for and displayed at the Walters Art Gallery.
The Maryland Institute of Art may be the legal owners of the collection; de facto, however, the museums have been its guardians for more than half a century. It is also evident that, in this case, they are the guardians of the community's interests as well.
Many issues surrounding the Lucas collection will be aired in the press and, should it come to that, in a court of law.
It should be emphasized, however, that one matter superseded all others in this case: the sanctity of the act by which the collection was presented to the Maryland Institute by its donor, Henry Walters.
When Mr. Walters made the gift of the collection that Mr. Lucas had willed to him, he made it clear in his letter of conveyance that the collection was to serve as a "continuing example" of artistic accomplishment to art students and others in his and Lucas' native city of Baltimore.
That the Board of Managers of the Maryland Institute accepted the terms of the gift is confirmed by their own language contained in a little-known publication issued at the time of the first exhibition of the collection at the institute in 1911:
"The Maryland Institute, through its Board of Managers, accepts with gratitude the trusteeship for the people of our city and state and for lovers and students of art the magnificent collection generously bequeathed to it by George A. Lucas."
No fair-minded individual could interpret this assertion of responsibility as allowing the liquidation of the collection for cash. Both the nature of Mr. Walters' gift and the nature of its acceptance by the institute, then, unequivocally convey the notion that the collection was to remain a permanent asset of the city.
Pressures of the moment and financial exigencies are real and substantive events, but they are ephemeral compared to the sacred bonds between donors and public institutions that are primary vehicles of the commonweal.
For the honor of the city's grand tradition of public benefactions -- and for the sake of its future -- Baltimore's citizens need rise up in defense of this venerable and sacred trust forged on behalf of all future generations.
The writer is director of the Cleveland Museum of Art and former director of the Walters Art Gallery.
I was outraged, as I am sure were hundreds of others, to learn of the gentle slap on the wrist imparted lobbyist Bruce Bereano by the judge.
On the other hand, I was elated by your April 26 editorial which pointed to this miscarriage of justice and your suggestion that the U.S. attorney appeal his sentence.
I believe that one reason for this light punishment was the appearance of numerous of our politicians in his behalf as "character" witnesses, and I believe this is simply more evidence of the contempt many of them have for us and for honesty in government. Although The Sun published a partial list, I respectfully suggest that you publish the names of all who appeared in his behalf.
Let the voters know which of their "representatives" take their offices so lightly and therefore obviously are the potential recipients of this form of "legal" graft.
What Red Light?
It is no wonder that Baltimoreans run so many red lights, given the example set by the police.
At about 9:50 a.m. on April 23, I was waiting along with another driver or two at a red light, southbound on Maryland Avenue at Mount Royal Avenue. A city police car came up on my right at moderate speed, with no siren or lights on, and casually proceeded on through the light.
Robert C. Tompkins
Korean War Vets
On April 17 and April 18 your newspaper did the Korean War veterans an honor rarely bestowed on us veterans of the war -- hence the description the "Forgotten Warriors" or "the Forgotten War" is applied to book titles and newspaper articles.
The pictures and the articles in your newspaper on those days were outstanding.
The recognition of our Maryland Korean Memorial on Boston Street, the stories about the veterans of that war, the comments of our association, the statue convoy ceremony and the mentioning of our National Memorial being dedicated in Washington are the first steps to help us escape this stigma of being forgotten.
When the dedication is complete then even I can start to heal the loss of a twin brother in Korea. Richard died as a prisoner of war, and his body was not returned. The return of his body will be my family's closure of the Korean War.