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MMD > Archives > November 2005 > 2005.11.03 > 03Prev  Next

Donating a Collection to an Institution
By Matthew Caulfield

I kinda started this thread, so maybe I'll finish it.

The Strong Museum here in Rochester, N.Y., was set up as a result of
a bequest in the will of Margaret Woodbury Strong (d. 1969), who spent
a lifetime travelling the world and collecting widely in many fields.
She bought and brought home almost anything that caught her eye.  Her
will left whatever funds were needed from her $77 million estate for
a public museum to house and display her collections.

As an article from American Heritage magazine explains, "her
collections would not qualify under New York State law as a charterable
museum, unless its curators could "extract social and cultural meaning
from three hundred thousand objects that had, for deeply personal
reasons, delighted the hungry heart of a rich and lonely old woman."

In carrying out that mission, the Strong Museum has been transmuted
into the "Strong Museum, National Museum of Play."  The museum is
"devoted to the study of play as it illuminates American popular
culture."  Much of Margaret Woodbury Strong's collection has been
sidelined or warehoused because it didn't pertain to this new mission.
While the Strong Museum is hugely successful, it no longer remains
faithful to the vision of the woman who made it possible.  Ref.: 

The Strong Museum was one of the unsuccessful applicants back in
2003 to acquire the Murtogh Guinness Collection of mechanical musical
instruments, as was the Smithsonian Institution (which may have been
mostly interested in the handsome endowment that went with the
collection).  One can now feel relieved that the Guinness Collection
went to the Morris Museum, where it is in no danger of being sidelined.

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

(Message sent Thu 3 Nov 2005, 19:32:03 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

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