Fisk University Gets Approval To Sell A Share of Art Collection
In an effort to keep the collection at the university, Fisk alumna Carol Creswell-Betsch created a fund that could pay the maintenance and display costs of the collection. The fund was named for Creswell-Betsch's mother, Pearl Creswell, who was the first curator of the Stieglitz collection. But this week Fisk University was given approval to sell an ownership stake to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Per the terms of the agreement, the museum will pay $30 million for one-half interest in the collection. Fisk will have discretionary use of $10 million and the rest will go into an endowment fund to be used to maintain and display the collection. A statement on the Fisk University website from Fisk President Hazel R. O'Leary called the decision to restrict $20 million of the funds "excessive" because the income from the $20 million restricted endowment is approximately $1 million annually which "far exceeds the amount necessary to secure and maintain the Collection." O'Leary went on to mention that "Alice Walton has agreed to fund an endowment of $1,000,000 which is to be used for the support and maintenance of the Collection."
In a statement received by Luxist, Carol Creswell-Betsch expressed her displeasure with the decision saying: "I am extremely disappointed in the court's decision to allow Fisk University to sell a share of the Stieglitz Collection to Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. With the court judging that only $10 million may be used by Fisk to address its financial issues, this ruling saves neither the art nor the university. Keeping this in mind, I continue to support the creation and contributions to the Pearl Creswell Fund for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection at Fisk University. This fund, available through The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, will allow the art to stay at my alma mater, to pay for the maintenance and display of the collection at no cost to Fisk, and to assure that the art is available for study at Fisk in Nashville for many years to come."
Georgia O'Keeffe donated the 101-piece collection of paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures from her late husband, noted photographer Alfred Stieglitz to the school in 1949. The collection is housed in the Carl Van Vechten gallery and includes works by Picasso, Cezanne, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, O'Keeffe, Demuth, Hartley, Dove and Walkowitz.