More Info on Fisk University’s Continued Struggles with Its O’Keeffe Collection


Following up on our post Monday about a judge’s ruling that Fisk University can’t half-deaccession its large Georgia O’Keeffe collection by selling a stake in it to Arkansas’ Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Chronicle of Higher Education fills in a number of details about the case. From the university’s running deficit, which prompted them to start looking for buyers for the collection (they were to get $30 million had the deal gone through), to information that the original, now overruled plan involved leaving the collection at Fisk for at least part of the year, and the judge leaving it open that both the university and Crystal Bridges still might possibly be able to work about an agreeable deal, it’s a far more detailed look at the situation. Also, to hear the university’s side of the story, Fisk released this statement, summarizing the case and pledging to continue trying to move the deal forward. Here’s a bit:

Fisk’s objective remains to fashion an agreement that provides both relief to Fisk and supports the Collection. The Fisk-Crystal Bridges agreement does just that by expanding accessibility to the Collection to more of the South and providing fiscal relief that we seek to begin rebuilding Fisk’s endowment. The sharing proposal, increasingly popular with galleries and museums across the globe, is an innovative arrangement that is clearly in the best interests of Fisk, Tennessee, and the South. To achieve these ends, we will follow the courses outlined in the Chancellor’s order.

Today’s ruling will have no immediate adverse impact on Fisk’s daily operations. Classes begin next week for the University and we remain focused on doing what we do best which is enhancing educational opportunities for our talented students.

For five years Fisk has fought to preserve and protect its ability to educate its students and the integrity of the Stieglitz Collection. There is no daylight between a solution that benefits Fisk, the people of Tennessee, and the nation.