Letter: Ignorant criticism of the art museum

A man named Neil B. Siegel seems to have a problem with the new Aspen Art Museum or perhaps with former Mayor Mick Ireland (“Aspen Art Museum: We won’t forget,” Letters, Aug. 5, The Aspen Times).

Siegel does not regard the museum as having “architectural excellence” despite the fact that the architect, Shiguru Ban, won the Pritzker Prize as the most outstanding architect in the world this year. The Aspen Art Museum is Ban’s first museum designed in the United States, and it is already regarded as a “must see” for architects and architecture fans throughout America. Siegel somehow manages to miss the architectural relevance and instead sees it as a means to regale us with his personal political grudge, labeling the museum as “a monument to the hypocrisy and hubris of the Mick Ireland administration.”

The new Aspen Art Museum was entirely funded with private donations. Not one penny of public money was allocated to the museum. Rather than recognize the generosity of the many supporters who dug into their own pockets to pay for the design and construction of the museum, Siegel dismisses them as “glitterati.” As it happens, these “glitterati” have created a resource available without cost for all residents of the valley.

Although Siegel predicts that in the future the museum will “come hat in hand to City Hall asking for public funds to sustain museum operations,” he again displays his lack of knowledge of the facts. The same “glitterati” who paid for the museum have donated more of their personal funds to create an endowment that assures that the museum will be well-funded long into the future.

Aspen has every reason to be proud of its new museum, and it will constitute a valuable partner with the Aspen Institute, the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Jazz Aspen Snowmass and the many other organizations and facilities that provide the rich cultural life for which this city is justifiably renowned.

Don Kaul