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Letter: Preserving our art history

I would like to thank the West Central Tribune and Tom Cherveny for the June 21 article expressing my interest in developing an art museum in Willmar. Thanks also to Steve Renquist for commenting on both the advantages brought by an art museum and the challenges presented in creating it.

It is an unfortunate truth that whatever their paths, more often than not, at the end of their careers most artists are forgotten. Even those who have received great accolades seldom have received lasting recognition, and this is, in part, why I have an interest in establishing an art museum. In Europe you will find small and large communities with an art museum representing artists no one outside that community has heard of. It is not uncommon to see a work dated 100 A.D. to 200 A.D. identified as a copy of a named artist from 200 B.C.! These communities have recognized that those artists are part of a greater cultural heritage. I believe we owe ourselves and our community the opportunity to look back and know the artists who, in some manner, enriched our lives.

In addition to creating an art history, an art museum can help fill the void created in fiscally difficult times. An art museum can lend depth in the education of our children in a time when we see more and more cuts in education spending. Additionally, an art museum can become a magnet to draw visitors from other areas and, lastly, may prove to be a catalyst for other culture-oriented businesses looking for a new home, and help revitalize the downtown, such as has happened in Stillwater. Rural Minnesota has a strong arts history, and a regional museum will be a good way to document and share this heritage.

My hope is to generate interest and support for this museum. I am looking forward to the many interesting conversations I know will come. I also hope you will show your interest, whether for or against this unusual idea, by writing the editor or contacting me at

Arthur H. Norby

Corvallis, Mont.