by Charlotte Vestal Brown
After 26 years, in January 2008 I submitted my resignation as Director of the Gregg Museum of Art & Design effective March 1, 2009. Time flies when you’re having fun.
This decision was not easy to make but for a couple of years I had experienced pinpricks of desire to write more; curate different exhibitions; consult for other museums; help artists and galleries; and travel with and to see my friends.
Life is also full of surprises. My retirement plans are now greatly enhanced
by my new husband, Steve Wainwright, who shares my vision for travel, writing,
consulting and friends. Our combined interests, friends and families will
be the central focus of my life and our life together. What a wonderful
surprise, what a huge joy, what a help in giving up this position that has
for years ruled my life.
It is also a surprise to be told, again and again, that the Gregg Museum of Art & Design is my legacy. A young woman from a small town in the piedmont of North Carolina would never aspire to “a legacy.” She could aspire to family and friends but her legacy would be her children, and Jonathan is certainly mine. But as I thought of Jonathan I began to think that a legacy is being left to the students and faculty of North Carolina State University and the citizens of our state. The legacy has been created by the combined efforts of many dedicated Museum staff members as well as the students and faculty of this University and the Friends of the Gregg. On behalf of those who made it possible, I bequeath in 2009:
- An art, craft and design collection of approximately 25,000 objects insured for well over $5 million whose value for teaching, learning, research and exhibition has only begun to be tapped;
- A purpose-built museum facility that opened in 1992 and is now completely out grown, but still has the best two gallery spaces imaginable;
- A wonderful staff whose individual commitments have helped me to make this “a legacy”;
- A Friends of the Gregg organization that has since its inception in 1983 been a great source of moral and financial support during the evolution from the Office of the Curator of Art to the Gregg Museum;
- At least 80 exhibitions whose value as documents about North Carolina, American life, culture and dreams are recorded in the publications that accompanied them;
- The goodwill of friends, artists, museum colleagues and peers in this country and abroad; and
- Education and outreach programs that use the collection and constantly seek new avenues to reach students, staff, faculty and the wider community.
I also bequeath a dream: a dream that in 2034, 26 years from now, my successors will be able to bequeath:
- An accredited purpose built, freestanding museum with parking for visitors and a nationally memorable front door;
- Friends of the Gregg with 2000 members;
- A staff sufficient to use the resources to deliver the vision in support of the University;
- A textiles conservation center;
- A collection of 50,000 objects to support object-based learning;
- Academic recognition of the Gregg Museum as a major resource for research and critical inquiry;
- A program to support a visual arts major;
- Delivery of education and outreach through web-based classes and presentations;
- A budget that would allow the Gregg Museum to make program decisions not based on whether it is affordable but “is this the right thing to do?”; and
- Multiples of other good things such as peer recognition, patrons and colleagues.
By 2034 North Carolina may be one of the 5 most populous states in the nation. This University and its agents – including the Gregg Museum – will be more challenged than ever to serve and educate students of all ages and ethnic origins to think critically and make wise decisions to shape the future that will continue to come at us as fast as an eyeblink.
I hope my successors will be suffused with the heartfelt gratitude I have to everyone who has contributed to this legacy and has helped time fly.