This morning WVTF Public Radio aired a lengthy story about the decision to name the University of Virginia’s Art Museum after Roanoke philanthropists Heywood and Cynthia Fralin (click link to listen to an MP3 and read the transcript) in exchange for the gift of their private art collection — and some controversy that’s arisen since the arrangement was first announced in May.
Through the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust, the Fralins have been responsible for providing the Taubman Museum of Art with the bulk of its collection of American art. Those who follow the Roanoke Valley art scene have wondered if the Fralins’ gift to the U.Va. museum signaled a change in their relationship with the Taubman. Heywood Fralin has declined to comment on the Taubman in recent years, but the WVTF interview provides this tidbit in which Cynthia Fralin discusses the Taubman:
Yeah, with things so uncertain still down there, I think Heywood really wanted to have a legacy at a place that he knew was always going to be there and be stable and secure.
The story also presents art experts affiliated with U.Va. who are critical of the university’s decision to name the museum after the Fralins for “a cluster of minor works”:
Nor did [U.Va. President Teresa] Sullivan talk to museum board members like Jim Godfrey, a former vice president and director of Sotheby’s.
“I nearly fell off my chair, particularly when I became aware that there was no funding attached. I think it’s a group of modest-quality paintings by B-plus artists.”