DAVID ROSMAN: Other issues are far more important than museums moving

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

The story of the summer is … moving museums?

I was technology-free for six days. It was not necessarily a purposeful act, but I was devoid of the Internet, television and radio.

Even the hard copy of the Missourian was hard to come by. So I expected a plethora of new news when I returned to the “world” on Saturday. No, it was the same-old, same-old, just with a new twist or two.

Tom Warhover’s column concerning the moving of the museums of Anthropology and of Art and Archaeology is interesting and represented a concern for the university community, not for Columbia as a whole.

What was missed and more important is the underlying story, the re-purposing of the former Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. Why not more about this?

I see the facility more than just temporary housing of two museums, but a permanent home to all three campus museums, plus the Boone Country Museum and possibly a new museum of science.

Within sight of and with easy access from Interstate 70, the location would provide the visibility that three small exhibitions must have to be discovered. The traffic will continue on toward downtown if we can create interest to draw in visitors.

The building can also be used as the home of the new business incubator and as a conference center. How about low-income housing or a medical and dental center for low income individuals and families of mid-Missouri?

Isn’t the problem with the redesign of the Providence/Stadium intersection for the Grasslands’ community important? This is a story that directly not only affects homeowners, residences and students who jaywalk to get to campus but daily commuters north and south. Isn’t this just as, if not more, important than relocating two MU museums?

There are the problems with the aging infrastructure of the city and county; sewers, water system and bus systems are in desperate need of repair, replacement or redesign. There are streets that still need repairs while affordable housing has been neglected as Columbia’s student housing has expanded.

With the most recent shootings in Santa Monica, Calif., wouldn’t the big story of the summer be how all four college campuses in Columbia plus Columbia Public Schools are planning to protect the students and community? Yes, the gun issue is back in our community.

How about the 2013 do-nothing Missouri state legislature and the proposed laws passed by our elected officials still awaiting the governor’s signature or veto?

Nixon is now looking at the plethora of emails in support and opposition of the proposed new gun laws in Missouri. Is the Second Amendment more important than Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

Nixon has already rejected the “We-gotta-keep-up-with-the Jayhawks” tax bill, but what about any of the proposals that seek to nullify federal law? Will Nixon call legislators back into session to do some real work, or will the new leadership simply waste our time and money again?

We have known and read about these problems for weeks, months, years, decades — well, maybe not decades, but for a long time. There is nothing new here.

In fact little changes in American politics. I did get to read Karl Miller’s nostalgic view of boys to men (or should that be Boyz II Men).

If Karl’s Rip van Winkle’s nap analogy started in 1912, he would have awakened today to the same arguments concerning universal health care, taxes and single tax plans, America's gold-based economy, child discipline and the planet’s ecology.

We are still arguing women’s rights and discrimination based on melanin. The rights of those of and not of religion. The separation of church and state.

The immigration issue is nothing new; the national, ethnic or religious origins have just changed. We have not even started to close the circle.

Calling the move of two small museums “the” up-and-coming story of the summer does not bode well. It belittles Columbia residents by saying we place a higher priority on the university than the well-being of the total community.

Nothing can be further than the truth. Yes, the university is our largest employer, but it is not the only game in town.

Maybe a continued hiatus from electronics is not a bad idea. Things do not change quickly, and I can use the nap.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.

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Ellis Smith June 12, 2013 | 12:13 p.m.

Agreed on many points. (Surprise!)

I have some familiarity with Fischel (my wife died there years ago). Interior remodeling would be required, but that could be necessary if another existing building were to be considered (on or off campus). One thing the existing site has is off-street parking, and there's plenty of space available to the south (now as lawn) to build additional parking, if required.

Also, a large sign could be placed on the north side of the building, easily seen from I-70, signaling the presence of the museums to those driving by.

I neither know NOR CARE what they do in Kansas, but this weekend the governor of Iowa in a major ceremony signs a series of bills representing state tax rollbacks for both individuals and businesses. Most taxpayers have expressed happiness.

The governor is considering running again for another term. If he does (and the Democrats will be hard pressed to find a candidate) he will become the longest-serving state governor in United States history! He had once previously retired, but has returned. In the interim, the Democrats (particularly that idiot Vilsak) ran the state financially into the ground.

Rather than making comparisons between Missouri and Kansas (incredibly boring stuff!) the Missouri press could compare Missouri vs. Iowa governace. Dare I also suggest a similar comparison for public higher education? No, that would be way too "traumatic."

(Report Comment)
Elizabeth Hornbeck June 13, 2013 | 5:41 p.m.

Contrary to David Rosman's opinion, the moving of the museums of Art & Archaeology and Anthropology is a concern for the entire city of Columbia, not just for the university community. These museums serve the entire population of our city, and in doing so they provide an important outreach between campus and community. Everyone from schoolchildren to retirees benefit from the presence of these museums on campus and walking distance from downtown. Alumni and other out-of-town visitors also benefit from access to the museums, and the university benefits from the positive impression our museums make on alumni and visitors. (Football is not and should not be the only resource our university has to offer!)

The issue which has come up recently is that the university has no plans to return the museums to campus after the renovation of Swallow Hall and the "decommissioning" of Pickard Hall for radiation remediation. Moving to Ellis Fischel should only be seen as a temporary situation, and supporters of these two museums want to see a commitment from the university to bring the museums back to campus.

These are not "small" museums, as Rosman alleges. The MU Museum of Art and Archeology (MUMAA) is the third largest art museum in the state of Missouri -- the others being located in major metropolitan areas -- and therefore an important resource for all of mid-Missouri. The collections belong to the University of Missouri, and therefore to the people of Missouri; all Missourians have a stake in the educational mission of this university and of its museum. Moving these outstanding collections and educational resources to a remote location, where even MU students will not be able to visit them in the course of their normal educational activities, is a virtual death sentence for these two museums.

Moving the museums to the Business Loop -- and leaving them there indefinitely or permanently -- will seriously limit access to art on the part of both MU students and the school children (K-12) of our community. For kids and families without a car, the Business Loop location is inaccessible. In a community in which art and "the arts" play such a prominent role in our public culture and in the city's efforts to promote itself as an attractive and unique place to live, to raise children, to attend (or send your kids to) college, and to retire, these museums need to remain geographically central.

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