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VOL. 126 | NO. 45 | Monday, March 07, 2011



Museum Could Be Great Fit for Memphis’ Future

The Memphis News

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A museum is more than old stuff on a wall or under glass.

And with today’s technology, museums increasingly are about more than what can physically be put on display.

The William Eggleston museum may be the ultimate Memphis story – the art world finally catching up to an artist whose work was both of his time and ahead of his time.

Eggleston is part of a long overlooked Memphis tradition of influential figures in the visual arts. That tradition is easy to overlook, as our cover story points out, because of the city’s much more visible and heralded music heritage.

And none of those artists have styles that point in a single direction. They are all unique in their perspective. That may make them – and Memphis – easier to overlook. But it speaks volumes of the city’s ability to nurture such talent even if we have done that in many cases through indifference instead of intention.

That brings us to a location for such a museum, which Mark Crosby, one of the organizers says should be “discreet, flexible, open, welcoming.” We would add the choice of a location should be without adding the weight of trying to make this museum carry every aspiration the city could possibly have to win approval from the outside world.

People from around the world might indeed come to Memphis just to see an Eggleston museum. But it shouldn’t be a working assumption that is put to a financial bottom line.

The successful work of other artists whose work is successfully marketed involves intellectual property whose worth, influence and use transcends a physical space. A museum is a place to start, not an end unto itself.

This museum should be about more than how many come through the turnstile.

And it probably shouldn’t be called on to pull the weight of setting off the revitalization of the Sears Crosstown site as the footprint of the site presently exists.

If a decision was made to demolish some of the cavernous Midtown presence short of the iconic tower, it may be worth a second look.

The other options mentioned by organizers are Overton Square or Overton Park.

Developer Bob Loeb has made it clear the future of the south side of the square is retail.

Overton Park seems to us the natural place in so many ways for another institution that will affirm the importance of the arts and advance the creativity that has flowed from the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Memphis College of Art for decades.

And we don’t think it is asking too much to recommend that the site should be clear of the Old Forest.

The Wharton administration has talked of returning what is now an area for city vehicle maintenance on the East Parkway side to parkland. That might be a good place to start looking.

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