It is tremendously sad when you read a story like this one. On Sunday, the Fresno Metropolitan Museum was forced to close one of its exhibits two weeks early, as a representative of the lending institution reclaimed the artwork off of the gallery walls. The unannounced seizure was due to nonpayment of exhibition rental fees and in hopes of heading off complications from the potential closure of the museum itself.
I cannot imagine how demoralizing this experience was for the museum staff present during the unceremonious removal of the 65 Chagall etchings. It must have been terrible trying to maintain an air of professionalism in light of the embarrassing circumstances that precipitated the reclamation of the exhibit.
Although I do not personally know any of the staff at the Fresno Met, I was contacted by the Museum in the summer of 2008 as their renovation project was drawing nearer to completion. We had a very positive conversation about the forthcoming installation of their new galleries and potential programming to coordinate with their new exhibits. I was disappointed that I could not help them with their project (I was far too pregnant to fly from Ohio to Fresno), because there was so much excitement and energy around the culmination of years spent planning, preparing, and undergoing the renovation. Now, just a little more than a year after the building reopened to the public, things have come to a tragic climax, and it is indeed very sad.
I remember the experience I had seven years ago, working for a museum that was in danger every day of closing its doors for good. Eventually, I was laid off, along with the rest of the professional staff, as only a bare-bones operations crew remained to help the organization limp along until things turned around. Truthfully, that museum is still limping along, but it remains open, and the visitors keep coming. It was incredibly humbling to walk out the door of the organization I had served with such dedication, knowing it was for the last time as a staff member, but the tough times teach us a lot about how to regroup and rally.
I hope the staff at the Fresno Met eventually finds a way to turn this unfortunate experience into a professional positive, because I have no doubt that packing those crates on Sunday afternoon really sucked.
Use this link to find the complete article, which appeared in the Fresno Bee.
Posted at 10:13 PM on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009
By Paula Lloyd / The Fresno Bee