The Metropolitan Museum trustees have been pitched onto the uncomfortable horns of dilemma by the will of the late Senator Clark. The latter has bequeathed to the museum a $3,000,000 art collection on the condition that a gallery be provided for the ensemble which must be kept intact. Such a condition is highly unfortunate, for it does not allow the trustees to utilize the objects after the policy which is of most value, artistically speaking, both to the treasures and to the museum. The collection is not at all homogenous, it contains duplicates of handicraft already on exhibition, and among the paintings, although there are many priceless masterpieces, there are some, it is said, that are not worthy of museum walls.
To accept this collection with its imposed conditions is to follow once more a highly regrettable practice. A public museum should be an institution where only the finest works of art are on display, and where these treasures, arranged according to tasteful and proper classification, can be studied and appreciated as conveniently as possible by the public.
The late Senator Clark would probably have been the last to wish to defeat the best interests of the museum, and incidentally his own collection, for posthumous fame. That he has done so, however unwittingly, is quite evident. With all due respect to him and gratitude for his generous gift, the Metropolitan directors should decline his collection. Such an action will set a precedent, or perhaps emphasize a half-forgotten one, that American museums should follow, like the National Gallery in London, only the best interests of art and the public for whom they exist.