Former Mayor Bret Schundler Reflects on The Jersey City Museum

by Paddy Johnson on February 8, 2011 Newswire

Former Jersey City mayor and Republican Bret Schundler has a few things to say about the Jersey City Museum’s recent closing, most of them sympathetic. After his election in 1992, he worked hard to feed the growth of artists living city. An increasing number were moving to the city, the center of which was located in the Lorillard building at 111 First street, and old cigarette factory transformed into studio space. Schundler believed that turning abondoned buildings into museums and galleries would galvanize the art scene. From the Star Ledger:

“I'm disappointed,” Schundler said of the closing from his Jersey City townhouse. “But I'm afraid the economics of the city will be strained for a long time, and the museum cannot continue the way it was set up. The only possible way for it to work would be on a different model, perhaps as an artist-run museum, where most costs are absorbed by the artists who put up the shows.” He cited the Loew's Jersey Theatre in Jersey City as an example in which all the management and most of the maintenance and repairs are done by volunteers.

This is a practical solution to a problem but it makes me very sad. Is the museum’s only option really to transform itself into an artist run center in which artists have to pay to produce their own shows? Donn Zaretsky thinks the museum should deaccession some of its holdings so it can remain open. I’d be happier with that possibility as a solution if the Jersey City had a better game plan. I mean, they don’t have any fundraising staff. Given the straits of the museum, I’m not sure why were not hearing about the board’s efforts to save the building every day. Their silence communicates apathy.

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