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Supporters Applaud Bowers Museum

October 29, 1992

I'm writing in response to Cathy Curtis' blatantly unfriendly reporting of the reopening of the Bowers Museum ("Spread Out," OC Live!, Oct. 15).

Against all odds, Bowers' staff, donors, volunteers and the City of Santa Ana have brought about a newly expanded building, teeming with seven impressive exhibitions that any halfway sensitive person could not help but enjoy while having his mind, heart and soul titillated and his awareness expanded. Ms. Curtis may be sadly under the impression/direction that she's been hired to disparage any little thing that she can think of, under the guise of being an "art critic." She comes off to me as irresponsible rather than as informed and sophisticated.

Rather than describing executive director Peter Keller as a "smooth talker" who jets around the world to exotic places looking for gems with his "companion," Patricia House, Ms. Curtis ought to be reporting about two hard working, tenacious people who have come to this community to raise significant sums of money and to provide leadership and direction that will ensure our area of a home base for cultural understanding and meaningful exposure into the humanities and arts.

Rather than intimidate potential donors with unflattering undertones about this museum, Ms. Curtis ought to be suggesting that if we want to turn our community around from social deterioration and fragmentation, then we all need to get behind positive efforts such as the Bowers Museum. This includes all of the wealthy as well as the non-wealthy people of this county and all ethnic and political groups.

Lack of previous accreditation cannot be equated with lack of excellence. Bowers wasn't accredited before this expansion because its storage facilities were inadequate and substandard, the very reasons that Bowers needed to expand. Second, Bowers was denied accreditation because the two existing boards--the original Board of Trustees, appointed by the City of Santa Ana, and the Foundation Board of Directors--were considered by the accreditation committee to be in real and potential conflict. This situation has also been corrected by the formation of the Board of Governors.

Accreditation, although it is some standard of acceptability in the museum world, is not the only standard.

SUSAN LERER

Newport Beach

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