Of prints and other art...


June 07, 1996

THE MAGNIFICENT COLLECTION of prints and other art bequeathed by George A. Lucas to the Maryland Institute, College of Art will remain in the Baltimore Museum of Art and Walters Art Gallery permanently, thanks to a wise settlement of the dispute between the museums and the art college.

The leaders of these institutions, helped by mediators able to remind them of the interests of the entire community, had the good sense not to press their disagreement to a legal conclusion. The summary judgment of Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan that the college had the right to sell the art will not be appealed; the trial on how much the BMA should be reimbursed for its care of prints will not be held. No one will ever know who was right. In the interests of their institutions, all were.

In this reconciliation of interests, the 20,000 prints and other works are held in trust for the people of Baltimore and Maryland by the museums that have cared for them. Baltimore's patrimony is Baltimore's forever. The art college which lent them for six decades will get an immediate $8.5 million, nearly doubling its endowment. All three institutions are strengthened.

In the settlement, for substantially less than could have been obtained for the art on the market, the BMA will provide the money up front and be reimbursed, half by the state and one-tenth of the remainder by the Walters Art Gallery. The BMA must seek gifts to cover its share. The Baltimore Community Foundation is committed for $100,000.

Credit for reaching agreement must be spread widely, with much to Judge Kaplan for encouraging it. Gov. Parris Glendening, with legislative leaders, took an active interest and pledged state funds. A mediating role was played by the Baltimore Community Foundation, board chairman Edward K. Dunn, Jr., and vice chairman Calman J. Zamoiski, Jr. The Community Foundation, now up to $53 million in capital, is finally able to show leadership in solving community problems, as longer-established

counterparts elsewhere have done.

The Baltimore-born, Paris-based art buyer George A. Lucas (1824-1909) would be proud. The next generation's art students need to know there will be strong museums for their best work. Museums will need the next generation's artists trained and nurtured to their creative potential. The institutions always needed each other, and Central Maryland needs them at their best.

Pub Date: 6/07/96

It's Baltimore's art forever; Lucas collection: Settlement reconciles interests of art school, museums.

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