B U R E A U   O F   F I N E   A R T S.



Armand H. Griffith, Director Art Museum, Detroit, Mich.

Superintendent.

ADVISORY COMMITTEE.

Paul Charlton, Chairman

C. S. Huntington,                  Clement Chase.
F. W. Parker                       Earl W. Gannett
Z. T. Lindsey                      W. S. Poppleton
C. W. Hamilton                     Herman Kountz, Jr.

HONORARY COMMISSIONERS AND COMMITTEES OF SELECTION

Jules Rolshoven,   England.          Thomas B. Walker,   Minnesota.
Frederick Mayer,   France            F. L. Ridgely,      Missouri.
Dr. C. Hofsteded    
De Groot,          Holland           John W. Bookwalter, New York.
W.M.R. French,     Illinois          Frank Duveneck,     Ohio.
John L. Griffith,  Indiana           Daniel Baugh,       Pennsylvania.
Stephen N. Crosby, Massachusetts     Thoe Cooley,        Tennessee.
Chas. L. Freer,    Michigan          John L. Mitchell    Wisconsin.




Detroit, Mich. Jan 3, 1899.

Mr. E. E. Bruce,
Chairman & Mgr. of Deps of Exhibits.
Omaha, Nebraska.
Dear Sir:

As Supt. of the Fine Arts Department of the Trans-Mississippi & International
Exposition, I beg to submit the following report.

When in the month of July, 1897, your executive committee so kindly appointed
me to the position which I held during your successful exposition, I
immediately realized that under existing circumstances, Omaha being so very far
from the general art centers, that it would be extremely difficult to interest
and secure the co-operation of the artists, art societies and the various
organizations which I felt we would be able to rely on for the collection; I
suggested to you that in the place of the old manner of giving medals, awards
and prizes that the exposition management guarantee the sale and purchase of
pictures to the extent of $5,000.  I believe then that it was by far the
wisest, and in fact, the only plan by which we could hope to secure a
representative exhibition, and now, as I look back over the work, I am more
than ever satisfied that that was the only plan and I feel gratified and
complimented to learn that it is being adopted by other exhibitions all over
the country.  I further realized that your exhibition, particularly in the
lines of art, would have to be of a different nature from that usually held in
the more densely populated and older sections of our country, and while some of
the plans did not wholly succeed, the general success of this department is one
of which I am quite pleased.  

The work of publicity was of the first importance, and this was largely secured
through circulars sent to the various art societies and to the prominent
artists over the country.  A number of personal visits to the cities of the
East and to various exhibitions, secured for the exhibition wide public notice,
but required considerable personal effort and a visit to many of the studios
resulted finally in awakening the interest and cooperation of the right person. 
Fortunately the exhibition came at the time of the year when many pictures
could be secured out of the winter and spring exhibitions.  In this way we
secured an important collection by Scotch artists and the great painting of
Charles the Bold by Boybet, from the St. Louis Exposition.  This required an
unusual amount of red tape and correspondence, both by reason of their being
foreign pictures and the fact that they had been sent to this country for one
exhibition only, and further that the artists objected to having their work
boxed up and out of sight for six months or more.  This objection was overcome
by sending some of the pictures to the Detroit Museum of Art and to the Chicago
Art Institute for exhibition, during the winter.  Thus making of these two
points a sort of rallying ground as it were.  From here they were finally sent
to Omaha.  A number of pictures were secured from the exposition at Nashville
under the same circumstances.

When I arrived on the grounds in May, I found that the building was far from
being ready for me, but this was to be expected as it occurs at almost every
exposition.  However, the workmen made every effort to clear the way, and while
we were very greatly delayed, I take opportunity in calling your attention to
the fact, that aside from the Government Building, the Art Building was the
only one on the grounds completely ready for visitors on opening day.

In all some 700 pieces were hung on the walls, many of them loaned by art
institutions and from the collections of private individuals.  This gave the
people who visited the exposition an opportunity to compare the work that had
stood the test of time with that of the modern artists, and while many people
did not understand and failed to appreciate the opportunities given them in the
shape of a great exhibition, it was the universal verdict of those people who
had made art a study even slightly or in an amateur way, that the exhibition
was a notable one and the question was even asked, "How were you able to secure
such pictures for such a length of time to be placed in a temporary building?"

Aside from the paintings, there were some 200 black and white drawings loaned
by the Century and Scribner's magazines.  These were the originals of those
published from time to time in their magazines, and were the creations of our
foremost painters and illustrators.  These were greatly enjoyed by the people,
as many of them were recognized and while they lacked the charm of color, they
were so beautiful that I am certain they added greatly to the exhibition.  In
addition to this there was quite an important collection of reproductions of
drawings from the old masters, loaned by Mr. George Busse.  These together with
the Copley reproductions of the important Mural and decorative painting s in
America today, I find attracted a great deal of attention.  There was also in
one room a very fine collection of Braune Autotypes, comprising reproductions
in carbon of the masterpieces of the world.

It was my opinion, and is now, that this would bring the people face to face
with the best art in the world, as could be done in no other way, the originals
being utterly out of the question to secure.  In the Department of Statuary the
department was not what I wish it might have been.  It was possibly the only
weak part of the art collection.  This, however, is easily accounted for from
the great expense and risk connected with the shipping of marble, bronze and
plaster reproductions.  Sculptors as a rule are not willing to risk their works
at so great a distance, unless guaranteed in some way the actual value or more
than the possible value of their work.  Unlike pictures, statuary from its bulk
and weight, is very easily damaged, even in the moving of it, and this will
readily explain why this part of the Fine Arts exhibit was rather meager.

You, as well as myself, were largely indebted to the generous kindness of many
private collectors.  They and the public institutions who aided in our efforts
have been recognized by you with diplomas and medals, and every one, without an
exception, have written thanking your executive committee for the honor and
compliments paid them in these diplomas and medals, it being an unusual
recognition which they greatly appreciated.

During the progress of the exposition, there was, as there always is, some
trying situations, but these, as a rule have passed away, and I find but very
few cases of complaint for which there was any real cause.

In the closing of the exposition I venture to say that no collection of such
magnitude was ever so promptly returned to the artists and owners.  This has
been universally commented on.  The exception being in the case where, through
misunderstandings of the railroads cases have been detained which otherwise
would have been delivered promptly, this, together with some little delays
necessary through the red tape of our custom laws, for while under the present
tariff laws a great encouragement is given to the American Artist it is quite
the reverse to pictures from foreign lands.  At the present time nearly every
picture is accounted for and the whole matter being rapidly brought to a
finish.  I take this opportunity of paying my respects to all the officers and
the executive committee with whom I was brought in contact.  Their uniform
courtesy and willingness to do the things requested from my department made it
a pleasure to be connected with the Exposition management.  Especially do I
wish to thank the Department of Exhibits for the promptness with which they
have honored my many requests for anything needed, both before, during and
since the close of the exposition, and I wish to thank you all for the "Bank"
promptness with which they have honored the necessary expenses and my own
salary.

I am particularly indebted to Mr. E. E. Bruce, Chief of Exhibits departments
and his able assistant, Mr. H. B. Hardt for the manner in which they so
generously took and discussed suggestions made them in the prosecution of the
work.  The Art Building at all expositions is looked upon as an expense from
which there can be no return in a money way and it is apt to be considered in
the light of a white elephant, its wants utterly ignored or but grudgingly
granted.  In this case, however, there was but little cause for complaint
beyond some trifling items, which, while annoying at the time soon righted
themselves.

With the kindest feelings and good wishes to all the Exposition Management, I
am
Very truly yours
A. H. Griffith
Supt. Fine Arts Bureau


 
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