Barton Lidice Benes
The artist Barton Lidice Benes gifted the contents of his New York apartment to the Museum, which includes over $1 million in African, Egyptian, and contemporary art, plus much more as touted in the New York Times when it announced Barton’s gift to North Dakota (2/6/05). The Museum dismantled the collection and reassembled it as the Museum’s first period room: a Twenty-First Century Artist’s Studio.
Reuter and Benes were introduced in 1987 by Harvey Hoshour, the architect who planned the original design for the renovation of the “Old Women’s Gym” on the campus of the University of North Dakota into the home of the North Dakota Museum of Art. Hoshour died before the renovation was complete so Reuter turned to artists to complete the building. Barton Benes designed the Museum Shop and later the Museum’s Donor Wall. The new building opened in 1989 with a survey exhibition of Benes’ art.
Other exhibitions followed in 1995 and 2004. In 1997 the Museum commissioned Benes to create a “flood museum” comprised of metaphor-laden, flood damaged objects contributed by the people of Grand Forks. The work, twenty-four-feet long and five-feet high, is divided into eighty pigeonholes, each containing a reliquary object such as the “favorite toy of flood kitten Iris who drowned but not before moving several kittens to safety in a vent.”
The Museum’s goal is to raise $2 million to fund the project to dismantle Benes’ apartment in New York and recreate it in North Dakota in a reconfigured Museum space. The second million is to build an endowment for exhibitions and programming.
For more information on the Benes acquisition or to support it, call the Museum at 701.777.4195.