« AnteriorContinuar »
My name is J. Carter Brown. I have been Director of the National Gallery of Art since 1969. I am also Chairman of the Commission on Fine Arts and a member of the Federal Council on the Arts.
I would like to endorse the concept and thrust of the proposed legislation and to urge your Connittees to report bills alcng the lines of s.1800 and H.R. 7216 favorably and work for their enactment into law with reasonable dispatch.
Several developments of the past two decades have nade the need for federal governmental action in this area immediate and pressins:
1. Rapid inflation in the market value of works of art, particularly those of renowned artists;
2. Mushrooming public interest and sophistication in the visual arts;
3. Acquisitions by public museums of all but a very few of the world's great art treasures, with only a trickle becoming available for purchase;
This trickle further reduced by national laws in most art-rich countries forbidding permanent export or indigenous works of art and artifacts and of "art treasures, even when created by nationals of other countries; and
5. Àcceptance, almost worldwide, of the
All these have combined to make loan exhibitions, large or limited, the only feasible way in vihich American museums can discharge their duty to the public by presenting for enjoyment and study in temporary exhibitions works of art which otherwise would be inaccessible.
In the last five years the National Gallery, generally in cooperation with other museums, has presented 27 loan exhibitions of which the following are particularly noteworthy:
Durer in America: His Graphic Work
The Art of Wilhelm Lehmbruck
Impressionist & Post-Impressionist
Paintings from the U.S.S.R.
The Far North: 2000 Years of American
Eskimo & Indian Art
Old Master Drawings from Christ
African Art and Motion
Exhibition of Archaeological Finds
of the People's Republic of China
The aggregate premium costs of insuring works lent to exhibitions at the Gallery during this five-year period was in excess of $200,000.
As part of the nation's bicentenary celebration, the Gallery plans to present beginning this summer the following major exhibitions:
Master Paintings from the Hermitage
and State Russian Museum, Leningrad
55-490 O - 75 - 9
The European Vision of America (16th
through early 19th Century)
The Eye of Thomas Jefferson (The
Cultural Heritage of Jefferson from
Egyptian Treasures (from the Tomb of
Tutankhamen and Other Pharoahs)
Insurance costs for the Gallery's share of these have not been finally determined but could well run in excess of $300,000.
As the Committee knows, in lieu of insurance, a state-to-state indemnity agreement between the United States and the People's Republic of China was authorized to cover risks of destruction and damage involved in the exhibition of archaeological treasures from the People's Republic of China and somewhat different legislation was enacted to protect the Metropolitan Museum of New York's exchange with the Soviet Union. Without such governmental assistance, millions of American citizens would have been denied the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from the Chinese archaeological finds and the Scythian Gold Exhibit. It is hard for me to believe that the Congress wishes to enact special legislation on an ad hoc basis for each major international show or exchange agreement.
The Committee is doubtless also aware of the system whereby the government of the United Kingdom pledges its full faith to indemnify lenders to exhibitions in the United Kingdom. From all reports, experience under this system has been most satisfactory to lenders and highly economical from the point of view of the British Treasury.
I believe the proposed legislation should consist of broad organic provisions and assign responsibility to a specific agency that can best issue detailed regulations amplifying the legislation and carry out its purposes with a minimum of bureaucratic overhead. It is beyond my competence to advocate the particular agency to be so charged.
The United States Government has long had a basic policy of being its own insurer. Consistent with that policy, the National Gallery devotes 25% of its appropriated funds to careful and sophisticated protection of its collections and not a dollar to insuring the works it owns from loss or damage while on its premises. Despite a few regrettable instances of reparable damage owing to insensate vandalism, the loss record in the 34 years since the Gallery's doors were opened has been essentially zero. The odds of loss through a commercial aircraft disaster, according to 1973 data, are 999,999:1.*
If the agency designated in the Act requires, as I am sure it will, prudent and professional standards of handling and guarding works of art for which indemnification agreements are authorized under this proposed legislation, the exposure of federal funds, with the $25,000 deductible provision, in pragmatic terms, is virtually infinitesimal.
Major loan exhibitions should be seen not only by the national tourist audience that flocks to the Capital, but in museums across the country. The enactment of legislation providing federal indemnification would help tremendously the educational and cultural life of this country nationwide.
J. Carter Brown
*Data furnished by Air Transport Association.
Cleared for OMB by James F. C. Hyde, Jr., Assistant Director for Legislative Reference, by telephone June 11, 1975.
William ROCKHILL NELSON GALLERY OF ART
The William Rockhill Nelson Trust
MENFFEE D. BLACKWELL
HERMAN R. SUTHERLAND
In reference to S. 1800 Part B., Section 221 through Section 229, I am strongly in favor of Federal indemnification covering international exhibitions as defined in Section 223 (a). It is my assumption the intent of the Bill is to supply such Federal indemnification only for exhibitions of such objects as defined in Section 223 (1) through (3), originating outside the United States, and not exhibitions consisting of such objects owned by individuals and institutions within the United States.
I have avoided comment on motion pictures or audio-visual tape (Section 223 41 ), because this is an area in which I am not competent to form a judgment.
I particularly favor the stipulation, under eligibility terms, that the exhibition "is certified by the Secretary of State or Designee as being in the national interest." (Section 223 "B] ). this is a very logical and necessary control.
It seems to me
Although an estimate of value on such items as covered by the Bill is extremely difficult, I am convinced such procedure is necessary because greatly inflated evaluations are not uncommon when requesting loans from foreign countries (Section 225 a! ). I am also strongly in favor of limiting the coverage for damage or loss to sums in excess of the first $25,000 (Section 225 b. ). Any institution capable of mounting an important international exhibition is certainly covered by employee liability insurance equal to or in excess of this amount.
In recent years the American public has been treated to a number of exhibitions which would qualify for such Federal indemnification as is proposed in the Bill. Among them are the exhibition of French 'Tapestries, that of French Impressionist paintings, and the exhibition of Scythian Gold from Russia, currently at the Metropolitan. Exhibitions of such magnitude and national importance are virtually impossible financially unless the sponsoring institution has Federal protection from subrogation.
My own institution, the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum, can supply a perfect example of the real necessity for such Federal support. We have just concluded the Exhibition of Archaeological Finds of the