The now shuttered Smithsonian-affiliate, the Fresno Metropolitan Museum, was already in trouble with Ansel Adams‘ family for trying to auction off his donated work to help pay off their bankruptcy debt, and now the museum is at the center of another complaint, this time against the town’s government. The county’s Grand Jury has lashed out at the City of Fresno for their spending of $15 million to try and save the museum six months ago, when it first hit serious sink-or-swim problems. While it’s certainly a noble and valued thing for a city to try and save a local museum, the court officials say they way the local government handled the effort was an absolute mess:
There was no business plan, no appraisal on the property — which appraised last year at $10.5 million — and no investigation into why the project was already 100% over budget by the time the city came to the rescue.
It blames former Mayor Alan Autry, the city council, and the city manager’s office for the lack of oversight. But some council members and the assistant city manager say the museum’s board of directors also deserves some of the blame.
“They led a lot of people to believe that they had the financing in place, it would just be a matter of months and unfortunately with the economy, we saw a significant downturn in the economy,” said [Assistant City Manager Bruce Rudd]. “It was a perfect storm.”
While their hearts were certainly in the right place, and maybe that will still win them some political points, it’s one museum closure that’s certainly riddled with something more than just sorrow-tinted fond memories.