Butkovitz Calls on School District to Release Hidden Artwork from Storage

For Immediate Release
Aug. 27, 2014

Contact:  Brian Dries
215-686-8869

Butkovitz Calls on School District to Release Hidden Artwork from Storage
City Controller says $4 million historical collection
should be displayed for all to enjoy

Letter to Superintendent Dr. Hite

FY2013 Report on Internal Control and on Compliance

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today called on the School District of Philadelphia to display the more than 200 pieces of artwork that have been concealed in a storage facility for the last decade.

The concealed historical collection has a replacement value of almost $4 million and contains pieces of art ranging in value from $100 to as high as $385,000.  Some of the artists in the collection include Walter Elmer Schofield, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Antonio Martino and Laura Wheeler Waring.

“This collection contains paintings by Philadelphia artists who lived, studied or made a direct impression and provided inspiration to the art community in our City,” said Butkovitz.

Since 2006, Controller Butkovitz has revealed items of artwork throughout the District that were missing, pieces that were deleted from the records without adequate information, duplications in the inventory, and some that were incorrectly coded in the records as to the correct location.

“While there’s been an overall lack of accountability of the District’s artwork, it’s even more disheartening that many of these great pieces are hidden from the public, behind locked doors,” said Butkovitz.

Controller Butkovitz recommends that the District explore opportunities to partner with art institutions located in the City to display the artwork for all to enjoy.  This would include coordinating efforts with institutions connected to the City of Philadelphia such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent.

“The District should also explore opportunities to merge current marketing efforts with the City’s tourism agencies and its art sectors,” said Butkovitz.

In a letter Controller Butkovitz sent to Philadelphia School District’s Superintendent William Hite along with the Fiscal Year 2013 Report on Internal Control and Compliance which was also issued today, the Controller highlighted similar efforts already underway in other cities.  In the City of Baltimore, the Walters Art Museum has been displaying reproduction paintings in public, outdoor places such as the zoo and city hall to increase awareness for the art and the museum.  This open-air exhibition was originated in Detroit and there have been similar ventures elsewhere in Michigan as well as Delaware and Ohio.

“These opportunities could also lead to generating much needed new revenues, where a portion of the money could be remitted back to the District’s General Fund,” said Butkovitz.

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