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VOL. 132 | NO. 189 | Friday, September 22, 2017

Morgan: Brooks Museum Deliberations Come With ‘Jolt’ and ‘Feeding Frenzy’

By Bill Dries

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You could say Overton Park is within the Memphis City Council district Worth Morgan represents. You could also say it’s a big part of his district in terms of the attention it’s occupied since he took office in January 2016, starting with the greensward parking controversy into the possible move of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art out of the park.

Worth Morgan

“A lot is on the table and I want everybody to know they are considering this as an option,” Morgan said at the outset of a conversation Tuesday, Sept. 19, at City Hall between council committee sessions. “It might not be what the board actually decides. But they have to put it on the table.”

Several other council members expressed hope that the museum stays where it is or remains in Overton Park.

Morgan found out about the possible relocation when the news went public last week. As he did in the controversy over Memphis Zoo overflow parking on the greensward, Morgan has been learning more about what is at stake.

“To my knowledge, there is no site that is favored. Their priority is to find a facility that will be able to attract and hold art exhibits from across the country and world,” he said. “The facility is the No. 1 priority for them when they are looking for a site. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a site that can host weddings outdoors or anything like that. It’s about the indoor facility and hosting the exhibits.

“Whatever they decide is something they’ve been discussing since the 1990s.”

And then there has been the reaction.

“Even to put this on the table is, as we’ve seen, a jolt to a number of people,” he said. “They had to make sure they roll the dice as carefully as possible.”

In the short time since the news of a possible move went public, there has been at least as much speculation about what could happen to the Brooks’ current facility as there’s been about where it might choose to go.

“I think there are going to be some creative ideas out there. It’s not up to me to be able to come up with all of them,” Morgan said. “I think you could almost describe it as a feeding frenzy of people who are going to be excited about the opportunity if that were to occur. We’re going to make sure that whoever comes in there, it’s going to be something that’s exciting for the park and attracts new people to Overton Park.”

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