Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts out of will, Bartley says; Rockefeller step-daughter planned to leave $500,000

Ann Bartley of San Francisco said she had the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts cut out of her favor.

Bartley, the daughter of former Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, said she planned to leave $500,000 to the museum.

But now it is not like that.

Bartley said she had an agreement with former museum director Townsend Wolff in 1998 to name a permanent collection gallery at the museum for her mother, Janet Idris Rockefeller.

“As part of this agreement, I will make a personal and financial commitment in my will to build the Arkansas Arts Center in its early years, as well as the much-deserved and appropriate recognition of its founding role. I designed half a million dollars.” Bartley, uses the old name of the museum.

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In 1959, in cooperation with the Museum’s Fine Arts Club, the Junior League of Little Rock, and the City of Little Rock, Rockefeller agreed to launch a statewide capital campaign to significantly expand the museum and expand its programs. help in, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. .

A gallery in the museum was named for Janet Rockefeller. But the museum is moving into a renovated and expanded building, which is scheduled to open in April.

Bartley said she received a March 3, 2021, letter from the museum’s current director, Victoria Ramirez, stating that a plaque at the new museum would honor the patrons who named the sites at the former museum.

“We plan to honor your mother’s previous name on this special plaque by listing the following: Janet Idris Rockefeller,” according to Ramirez’s letter.

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“Her name on the board of trustees is not the same as Janet Idris Rockefeller’s permanent collection gallery,” Bartley said. “I was terrified and waited a year and five months for official communication to right this wrong.”

On September 13, Bartley wrote to Warren Stephens, director of the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, to explain how Ramirez’s letter “nullified” her written contract with Wolfe.

On Friday, Harriet and Warren Stephens, co-chairs of the museum’s capital campaign, said they were not aware of Bartley’s agreement with Wolfe. But for years, they said, there have been plans for a gallery named Janet Idris Rockefeller at the new museum.

Bartley said someone sent her a letter Dec. 2 to museum supporters saying the new museum would house a gallery for her mother and others.

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Bartley said: “I was delighted to learn that Warren and Harriet Stephens, in their letter to AMFA supporters on December 2, are now very specific about how they will honor my mother with an individually named gallery. “

She said: “Going through this experience, I seriously question whether the Foundation Board and the current members of the Museum Board can carry out the museum’s best practices in terms of governance, management, internal communication and transparency. improve the inability to do so.” “Until I see evidence of such a change, perhaps, next time, I will reconsider.

“This experience showed me how incompetent they are,” she said.


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