The Washington Arts Consortium, a nonprofit collaborative organization of seven Washington art museums including the Tacoma Art Museum, has announced that it will disband. Founded in 1976 by Seattle arts patron Virginia Wright, the consortium was originally formed to bring modern American artwork to member museums and spur collaboration. The 411-piece collection by 175 artists will be distributed among six of the members.
The decision to disband comes after 18 months of planning and is a result of the individual success of the consortium’s members: Tacoma Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, Western Gallery at Western Washington University and Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Museum of Art at Washington State University in Pullman and the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in Seattle. During the group’s 40 years, it has presented more than 130 exhibitions and programs across the state.
According to the press release, the consortium and Wright felt that “the need for a separate entity to ensure broad access was now less crucial, and that the resources to maintain it could be better deployed in service of audience engagement with collections.”
Of the consortium’s collection, Tacoma Art Museum will receive part of the 104-work Safeco Collection of Northwest Art on Paper. The collection will be divided among other museums according to their collecting focus and location. The consortium’s $2.3 million endowment will be equally divided.
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“For the last 40 years, I have enjoyed watching the Washington Art Consortium’s progress and development,” Wright said in the release. “In 2015, as we approached our 40th anniversary, I encouraged our board to think about the future. I am pleased with their decision and delighted that the collections will live on through our member museums, continuing to serve as an important resource for the entire state.”