Thursday, October 9, 2008

In The News: WAMU Whams Seattle Art Museum

Banks have been falling like prices at Wal-Mart these days. This is leaving most museums and non-profits in the U.S. stir crazy. Most of us are thinking... what happens now? The Seattle Art Museum certainly has a few words to toot after the collapse of Washington Mutual Bank (WAMU).... What kind of relationship does WAMU have with Seattle Art Museum you ask? Seattle Art Museum happens to be WAMU's landlord.

In 2007, Seattle Art Museum made an impressive expansion to their building, to 268,000 from 150,000 square feet, so that it could persuade local donors to augment its permanent collection, in time for its 75th anniversary. This expansion added almost 1,000 new objects to the permanent collection, a Curator's dream basically. Seattle Art Museum partnered with WAMU and leased the top 8 floors of the building to them for use, which then prompted WAMU to build its own new headquarters on museum land adjacent to the expansion, purchasing development rights for $18 million, an $8-million discount on the appraisal. Will JP Morgan Chase then occupy the building since their foots are in WAMU's doors? According to SAM, WAMU is still paying rent.

On the East Coast in good ole' Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art is in Partnership with Wachovia, which was just bought out by Wells Fargo (too bad, Citigroup). Wachovia charitable giving focused on community development and education. Wachovia funded the Wachovia Education Resource Center at PMA to promote arts education with Philly kids. A pretty nice gift with a tag of $750,000 to construct the center, which opened in 2007. They also threw in another $500,000 for good measure for free admission to the public for the past four months.

So... the question is, will this become the Wells Fargo Education Resource Center now? Or does that depend on future funding from Wells Fargo.

I'm sure this is happening around town alot for both large and small art museums. Banks are good to art museums when it comes to grants and funding for programs, restoration, preservation and fundraising. But with all the falling, will there still be enough to go around?

We shall see.

Blips taken from Culturegrll and Art Net News.

No comments: