The Miracle on Quincy Street

The Sackler Museum Opens After Years of Controversy

"What started as a firestorm has turned into a firm resolution to get this thing done. I've been at this for five years and I don't want to lose now," Slive told The Crimson.

When March 15 arrived, supporters of the new art museum had ample reason to welcome the day--$3.1 million had been pledged since the February cancellation. It appeared once again that Harvard would get a new art museum.

"I've been on the road with my tin cup for many days, and I know what a supreme achievement this really is," Slive said on the day the fundraising success was announced.

Indeed, "the miracle on Quincy Street," as Slive calls it, had been achieved.

As a token of his appreciation, Slive said that he gave a tin cup to each of the people who helped to make the miracle happen. "The tin cup was a symbol of the whole operation because we literally had to beg for money," Slive said.


"We really were surprised to discover how much love there was for the Harvard art museums. In a time of crisis we got tremendous support from everyone from students to major benefactors," he said.

Slive emphasized that without Sackler's continued support throughout the crisis, the new museum would not exist today. "He had the opportunity to pull out, and he didn't," Slive said. Sackler's contribution to the Harvard University Art Museums totals $10.5 million.

The anger and animosity of 1982 seems to have been washed away by the excitement of the opening of the long-awaited museum.

"It's all forgotten and is all history, now," Slive said last week. "As a historian, I take the long view--it's all ancient history now."

"The events of 1982 were depressing, and I think some of us lost a little faith in Harvard at the time. But on the whole it's behind us now, though not entirely forgotten," said Grabar.

"In some ways it even had good effects, because I think that as a result people started to talk about the problems, issues, and difficulties with having a rich museum at a University," Grabar said.

Bok last week called the decision to go ahead with the project "positive," and said, "It solved our space problems, which were severe."

Communications with the Fine Arts Department have improved, largely as a result of a better administrative structure which has remained since it was needed at the height of the controversy, Bok said.

Oberhauer agreed that communications are improved, saying there is now "a much better understanding of us in University Hall, and a much better understanding of them, as well."

"The positive result is that the museum was built, and now it's opening," he added