Our signature art museum is flagging.
Many people pinned many hopes on it, and it’s hard to ignore the fact that it’s gotten Roanoke a lot of publicity and spurred a small blizzard of art-gallery openings downtown.
But these days the museum’s visitors are rare as snowflakes in the summer. The museum has just undergone its fourth round of layoffs and Jenny Taubman, who raised a lot of the money for it, has waved goodbye to its board.
Now the media is sniffing around rumors it will be taken over by Virginia Tech, which already owns the Hotel Roanoke and the medical school building down on Reserve Avenue.
The whole idea of creating an ultra-modern museum that looks like a crash-landed flying saucer, and basing that around a collection of 19th century pursed-lipped portraits, always seemed kind of screwy.
But eventually, I came around because it appealed to my keen sense of the absurd.
I and my family have visited the place and we like it a lot. You should go, too, if you haven’t yet.
There’s something about the way art teases the senses and the soul. It can make a museum visit a profound experience.
For that reason it would be a shame if the Taubman shuts its doors. Nobody’s rooting for it to go under.
On the other hand, you know what Gen. (and later president) Dwight D. Eisenhower always said: “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”
He meant you need to anticipate every eventuality. For that reason we should anticipate the Taubman’s closing and ask ourselves, “What would or should happen to that distinctive building?”
Allow me to kick off the brainstorming with some tongue-in-cheek ideas.