The US Government spends US$ 2 billion per week on wars in foreign countries while its citizens struggle to keep open the doors of museums and cultural centers due to government cuts.

The Industry of War gets priority over preservation of the Arts. This is shameful. Republican Senator Michael Baumgartner are you listening?

This is an online interview with Karen Mobley, a museum trustee, a long time volunteer for the art committee of the museum, an artist whose work has been in the art auction and in the museum’s sales and rental program. She is a donor, member of the museum’s Legacy Society, which means she has promised a portion of her estate to the museum. A special thanks to Candess M.Campbell for arranging this interview.

Can you share with the readers a short history of The Mac?

MAC stands for Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.
Eastern Washington is a unique region of the country. In 1918, state government recognized this distinction designating a second historical society—the Eastern Washington State Historical Society—to compliment the mandate of Washington State Historical Society established in 1891 and ensure a full representation of Washington’s diverse heritage.  MAC’s collecting encompasses generational diversity of Washington citizens amplifying voices of those who are not always heard.  The informal exploration, discovery, and connections with ideas and people that occur within programs unique to museums is empowering and equalizing for Washington citizens.

Founded in 1916, is the largest cultural organization in the Inland Northwest with 5 underground galleries, the historic 1898 Campbell House, Joel E. Ferris Library & Archives, an orientation gallery, café, store, education center, community room and the Center for Plateau Cultural Studies.

The MAC campus (expanded in 2001 with a $30 million renovation) also includes an auditorium and outdoor amphitheater.  The exhibits and programs focus on three major disciplines: American Indian and other cultures, regional history and visual art.

Our collection, with over 39,000 American Indian, 22,000 regional history, and 1,500 art objects including the 252,109 records archive is nationally renowned.

Attracts over 100,000 visitors annually including nearly 4,000 K-12 students.

The Kirkland Cutter designed Campbell House, one of the most popular museum attractions, is our largest artifact, with student and public tours staffed by trained volunteer docents, consistently our most popular attraction.

The MAC’s educational programs include vibrant student and family learning experiences such as Living History Day, the Plateau tribes Living Legacy tour and learning laboratory, Campbell House exploration and hands-on art activities in the art studio.

The MAC is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and one of the first museums in the United States to be accredited by the American Association of Museums.

What is the importance of the MAC ?

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is the largest cultural organization in the Inland Northwest.  The MAC is a repository of the artifacts from all of the Northwest Plateau tribes, many objects from the history of Spokane and a huge archive of photos from the region, the MAC has one of the few collections of art by Eastern Washington artists and is a gathering place for arts and history aficiandos from all around the west.  The exhibitions at the MAC change.  Right now the museum is gearing up for a travelling exhibition of inventions and reproductions of works by Leonardo DaVinci which opens in June of this year.  The exhibitions are listed on  http://www.northwestmuseum.org

MAC is an important contributor to the region’s economy.  Cultural travelers stay longer and spend more than other visitors. Event-related spending pumps revenue into restaurants, hotels and retail businesses. The MAC is the first non-metro market to land the international blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci: Man, Inventor, Genius exhibit opening June 3, 2011.The exhibit is expected to attract 40,000 new visitors to the region. The MAC helps recruit and maintain businesses, serving as a barometer of the region’s quality of life. The MAC contributes an estimated $10 million to our region’s economy.  The American Indian objects and sacred room will be unavailable to tribal members, which will cause significant cultural turmoil.  The building will closed  to the public, its collections inaccessible.   An unoccupied facility creates the potential for vandalism and theft and will subject the neighborhood to unwarranted blight.

Why is it in danger of being shut down?

The MAC is basically a state agency – about 60% of its budget comes from the state of Washington and about 40% comes from local sources such a grants, contributions, sponsorship and from the endowment.   The whole state is having big budget challenges.  The museum is not uniquely being targeted. There are also cuts to education, support to indigent people through health care and other services.  It is a difficult time.  The elimination of the state portion of the budget is way too much for the local community to absorb.

Karen Mobley is the Arts Director City of Spokane (Leonardo da Vinci: Man, Inventor, Genius) since June 1997.  Prior to this she was the Director of the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, WY and Gallery Director for University Art Gallery at New Mexico State University.  She is a board member for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, a member of the Spokane Public Radio Steering Committee, a Deacon for Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ and active in the Washington State Arts Alliance and Rotary 21.   Karen is a working artist and poet. Her art work is represented in Spokane by Art@Work (the sales and rental program of the MAC).. She reads and performs poetry at events through the region.

She likes cats and is currently working to make the longest cat hair rope in the world.

If you want to help keep the Arts alive, please contact
Karen R. Mobley, Arts Director, City of Spokane,
Spokane Arts Commission, 808 W. Spokane Falls Boulevard
Spokane, WA 99201-3333 (509) 625-6079
kmobley@spokanecity.org
http://www.spokanearts.org

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