Museum Donor Wall designed by Barton Benes
Barton Lidice Benes was building “Museums” as works of art for the past twenty years of his life. First he made a Hollywood Museum, then an Artist Museum. He went on to assemble a Medical Museum, a Ball Museum, and many more, all of which were exhibited in a New York Soho gallery in the fall of 1996. Curiosa, a book about his museums was published at the same time.
Barton became involved with the North Dakota Museum of Art beginning in the late 1980's when he designed the Museum Shop and had a solo exhibition in conjunction with the 1989 Grand Opening of the new building. In 1994 he showed "Lethal Weapons," his second solo exhibition in the North Dakota Museum of Art for which the Museum published a catalog. Barton's Museums prompted Director Reuter to commission him to create a donor museum as a personal way to recognize major donors.
The Donor Wall continues the Museum’s philosophy of inviting artists to design as works of art the utilitarian spaces necessary in a public building. Cork Marcheschi of San Francisco created the neon ceilings in the public rest rooms; Richard Nonas laid out the structure of the sculpture garden with massive stones to anchor a specimen peony garden and a crushed limestone plaza.
The Museum wanted the Donor Wall to be more than a list of names engraved on bronze plaques. Each cubbyhole is filled by an individual, corporate or foundation donor who has contributed $10,000 or more (cumulatively) to the creation of this cultural institution. The givers choose their own objects to represent them. Written at the bottom of each card is an appropriate inscription. When these boxes are filled, we will go on to wrap the whole elevator space with what will become a grand work of art.
Only in America are cultural institutions built through the generosity of individuals. To all of you, we, the general public, the paid and volunteer staff, the Board of Trustees, the Foundation Board, and the Friends of the Museum, say “Thank You.” We thank the Myra Foundation for a generous grant that made the Donor Wall possible. Myra has also provided major support for the Museum Classical Concert Series.The Foundation has more than earned its place on the Wall.
Laurel Reuter, Director