Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thomas Eakins "The Gross Clinic" Realism

Realism was the prime reason for Thomas Eakins painting. He was a man of his time. Much is made of the conflicts that he faced. They all stem from the shock of the new ideas that were developing in his lifetime.

The following from WSU web site helps to put this into context.

Realism in American Literature, 1860-1890

"Broadly defined as "the faithful representation of reality" or "verisimilitude," realism is a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing. Although strictly speaking, realism is a technique, it also denotes a particular kind of subject matter, especially the representation of middle-class life. A reaction against romanticism, an interest in scientific method, the systematizing of the study of documentary history, and the influence of rational philosophy all affected the rise of realism."

Thomas Eakins was to painting what the realist authors were to writing.

The reason I respect his art and feel strongly about keeping "The Gross Clinic" in Philadelphia is that the truth of the painting holds high the values that I have. The same values that many Philadelphia realists share today.

How to Give
The public can help by giving to the Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece, established to raise the money to match the sale price of $68 million. Make a tax deductible contribution online at, or mail a check made payable to Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece and send it to Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece, c/o Philadelphia Museum of Art, P.O. Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19130-7646. The Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece HOTLINE is reachable by calling 215-684-7762.

The Gross Clinic - In Intensive Care

Today Stephan Salisbury reports in the Inky that the fund to save the Gross Clinic is about one third toward its goal of $68 million dollars. This gives me hope that the world cares about art. Every day there are humans like myself who work to be creative. The painting by Thomas Eakins is a symbol of that creativity. Sports, science, and the other arts have their heroes. It is clear that those who love visual arts see Thomas Eakins as one of our heroes. His masterwork is The Gross Clinic!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

WHYY Frames Eakins Conversation

WHYY Frames Eakins Conversation. Panel on the "Gross Clinic" controversy, moderated by WHYY's Tracey Matisak. WHYY Independence Foundation Civic Space, 150 N 6th St. 6 p.m. Tue. Reservations required at WHYY or 215-351-0511.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Eakins Teaching Legacy- Anthony Visco

We all feel the hurt that this sale gives. The art world has suffered from a lack of respect and understanding.

Posted in: Adventures of Phoebe the Cat and Friends

"Presidents And CEO’s Are Allowed To Have Bad Ideas Too" by Anthony Visco

"I can only say that after 20 years of teaching human anatomy to artists in the same rooms as Eakins, after lecturing to incoming med students about the relationship between art and medicine, Mr. H sadly does not know the Sisterhood of these two. with this in mind, I am truly concerned for the students at Jefferson that regardless of the possession of the Eakins, may be losing that all too important link between art and science.....

As we all know too well, presidents and CEO's can have bad ideas too. Selling off priceless collections of art, tearing down architectural wonders that can never be replaced, rare out of print books thrown in dumpsters; we all have experienced these and more and are well tired of it.

Anthony Visco
November 22, 2006"

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Non Profit Ethics: Jefferson and The Gross Clinic

The Where Most Needed blog has an interesting look at the financial reports of the non profits related to the sale of the Eakins painting.

Millions were spent yesterday on gifts. The sales tax alone must be impressive. How much did Wal-Mart make in one day?

I spent $0.00 because I have nothing. I'm in debt and have many past due bills. It is insane for me to care about a painting being sold for $68 million when I have $68.00 in my bank account. My gifts will be hand made this year. I've been working part time in a foundry the last few months. The pay is not going to make me well off but it is more interesting than working for Wal-Mart.

My hope for a good outcome regarding The Gross Clinic discussion is that people realize what a bargain most art is. My sculptures can be purchased for a few thousands of dollars. The problem is that no one wants them. I have no health insurance and only hope that if and when I get sick someone will help me.

If you don't like Wal-Mart, try to find a living artist whose work you like and support them.

You can see some of my art at my website, Hankin Studio

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Rx- Save The Gross Clinic

How to save the Gross Clinic from certain death?

During the past week Thomas Eakins painting, “The Gross Clinic" has been on life support. The cause of this sudden illness is the loss of heart by those who have cared for the heroic painting of Dr. Gross for the past one hundred and twenty seven years. The diagnosis is poor and yet there is hope that the cultural icon which has been identified as one of the most important paintings created by an American, can spend a long life in peace residing in it’s hometown.

There is no doubt that everyone agrees as to the importance of this seminal work of art. The meaning of the painting is clear, knowledge and science will provide humankind with medical relief from the pain and suffering of disease. The same virtues that compelled Thomas Eakins to create the vision of Dr. Gross still exist today.

Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania are still the leaders of medical and bio technology. Bio 2005 brought to the city thousands of innovators who still advance the future of science. The Gross Clinic depicts a true hall of famer for the medical profession.

Who then should step up to the plate to revive this treasure? What terrific good will and commitment to the cultural life of the Philadelphia region would be achieved by those companies that work to save lives every day. The Doctors, Health Insurance, Pharmaceutical and Health Care sector would benefit greatly by the positive image of keeping this treasure home.

Dr. Gross and Mr. Eakins intended that the painting be representative of the greatness of medicine. The Gross Clinic celebrates the man but it also celebrates the lesson of knowledge. Dr. Gross is the central figure but it is the surgery that is the primary focus of the composition. Dr. Gross as represented by Thomas Eakins is teaching the world a lesson. Medicine and surgery were changing as were the artistic principals of the time. Doctors were discovering the methods to treat illness with better tools that would do less harm. Artists were looking at the natural world with eyes focused on the reality of what they could learn. Dr. Gross and Mr. Eakins wanted to be free from the past limits of their arts.

Great publicity will be achieved by those who protect and hold The Gross Clinic up for adulation for all to view in its home town. This is an opportunity that will only come upon the medical community rarely, to give life to its own Icon. Dr. Gross was the leader of his time. Who will lead the effort to save his image?

How to Give
The public can help by giving to the Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece, established to raise the money to match the sale price of $68 million. Make a tax deductible contribution online at, or mail a check made payable to Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece and send it to Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece, c/o Philadelphia Museum of Art, P.O. Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19130-7646. The Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece HOTLINE is reachable by calling 215-684-7762.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

ecorche NYAA

Originally uploaded by Charles Hankin.
In graduate school I studied anatomy. Realism is based on the knowledge of actual forms of the figure. Eakins was a master of form and represents that knowledge in The Gross Clinic. I made this ecorche to learn the structure of the human anatomy.

Thomas Eakins "The Gross Clinic" Gives Hope

The letter in the Inky today gives me hope that there are people in the region who understand the connection between art and human well being. Both Dr. Gross and Mr. Eakins knew that life was important and that the knowledge gained by study could lift up humans. I hope that more of the people who have made their wealth on this early testament to health care will see the way to give to keep The Gross Clinic in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia based pharmaceutical and health insurance corporations would create important good will by opening their pockets and giving to the fund to save the painting.

On a personal note I am named for my great uncle, Dr. Charles Schwartz, who was the chief of surgery at a hospital in Germantown PA , where I was born.

Copy of a letter in the inky today:

" 'Gross Clinic' benefit to city: Priceless

The Philadelphia Academy of Surgery, founded by Samuel D. Gross in 1879 and the oldest continuously meeting surgical society in the United States, is extremely dismayed by Thomas Jefferson University's decision to sell Thomas Eakins' portrait of Dr. Gross.

This painting, more popularly referred to as The Gross Clinic, has been called "the most powerful painting ever produced by an American artist" and is a tribute both to Gross and to Philadelphia as a leading center in medicine.

Gross's stature in American medicine is further reflected by the fact that he also founded the American Surgical Association, the nation's most prestigious surgical society.

Eakins' painting is an icon of these accomplishments and, over the years, undoubtedly has stimulated many physicians and Philadelphians to expand upon Gross' and the city's outstanding medical reputation.

Moving this painting from Philadelphia would deprive the region of this priceless benefit.

This is a particular shame since these benefits would likely endure long after the bricks and mortar bought by the painting's sale.

The Council of the Philadelphia Academy of Surgery unanimously and strongly feels that Philadelphia is the only proper home of The Gross Clinic.

Robert S. Rhodes
Council of the Philadelphia Academy of Surgery"

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Gross Clinic vs Eagles Team

The Curse of the Gross Clinic?

Today artists protested the sale of the painting by Jefferson University which many think will remove a great painting from Philadelphia. Many are wondering how a painting could be worth that much, $68 million. Donovan McNabb was lost to the Eagles today for the rest of the season. The salary cap for the Eagles is $102 Million. What is the entertainment value for a team that continues to lose and disappoint against the emotional and intellectual value of a great painting? A painting will last for hundreds of years if properly cared for and give millions of viewers insight into the human existence. Will anyone care what the Eagles did after another losing season? I think the Gross Clinic at $68 million is a far better investment!

The subject of the painting is Surgery- just what awaits McNabb. If it were not for Dr. Gross' innovations there would be no hope for McNabbs recovery. Good luck keeping both on our home field!

All it would take is for 2,720,000 people world wide to contribute $25.00 each to pay for the Gross Clinic. What a Holiday present for Philadelphia and the future!

Friday, November 17, 2006

$68 Million Art vs $125 Million War Justice

This is from the news today. What is the real value of a dollar. Congress can't raise the minium wage yet we spend more and more on fighting our war. Is art more uplifting at any price then war?

"U.S. Military Plans Gitmo Legal Compound"


The Associated Press
Friday, November 17, 2006; 5:36 PM

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The U.S. military on Friday said it plans to build a $125 million compound at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base where it hopes to hold war-crimes trials for terror suspects by the middle of next year.

The compound, designed to accommodate as many as 1,200 people, would include dining areas, work spaces and sleeping accommodations for administrative personnel, lawyers, journalists and others involved in trials at the isolated detention center in southeast Cuba."

Save The Gross Clinic

Please Help If You Can !

PAFA press release:


In an appeal to the community, a fund and hotline are established for The Gross Clinic

November 17, 2006

Philadelphia, PA (November 17, 2006) -- The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, public and private institutions, city officials, and civic leaders are joining forces in the effort to raise $68 million to keep Thomas Eakins’ 1875 masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, in Philadelphia. Partners in the drive to keep the spectacular painting in the city where it was painted have established The Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece and, recognizing the difficulty of the challenge, are reaching out to the community for support. The action comes in response to an announcement by the painting’s owner, Thomas Jefferson University, that local art museums and governmental institutions must match the price by December 26, 2006, or the painting will be sold to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, founded by Alice L. Walton, and scheduled to open in 2009, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) was both a student and extraordinarily influential teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy. The Academy also maintains the Bregler Collection, which contains a vast number of Eakins' drawings, perspective studies, memorabilia, photographs, and letters. The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses the largest collection of his work, which was largely the gift of Eakins’ widow and a close friend of the artist’s family in 1929 and 1930. The artist’s achievement is inextricably bound to Philadelphia life, past and present, and The Gross Clinic is widely considered to be one of the great masterpieces of American painting.

Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street endorsed the effort to keep the painting in Philadelphia. He said, “I am encouraged by the strong voices of support within our community for keeping this magnificent painting in Philadelphia. Our city has an extraordinary fabric of arts and culture which makes us a magnet for visitors from all across the nation and around the world, and provides a great quality of life for all of our citizens. Retaining The Gross Clinic will underscore that reality and ensure a place in the heart of our city for this treasured painting.”

“The Gross Clinic is a tremendous work of immeasurable value to Philadelphia,” said Donald R. Caldwell, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. “Philadelphia is where so much scholarship on his outstanding place in American art has been developed, and our city is the most appropriate venue for what is widely considered Eakins’ most important painting. It is imperative that The Gross Clinic remains here, and we are working together to find a way to make that happen.”

Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stated: “The public outpouring of concern has been extraordinary, both locally and from around the country, and we all agreed that Philadelphians must establish a fund to which the public can contribute.

“By working together, our city may be able to preserve Eakins’ greatest work in Philadelphia, where his enduring presence and influence are so profoundly felt. It is a difficult challenge but it’s not impossible and we should be optimistic.”

How to Give
The public can help by giving to the Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece, established to raise the money to match the sale price of $68 million. Make a tax deductible contribution online at, or mail a check made payable to Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece and send it to Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece, c/o Philadelphia Museum of Art, P.O. Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19130-7646. The Fund for Eakins’ Masterpiece HOTLINE is reachable by calling 215-684-7762.

About The Gross Clinic
Painted in 1875, The Gross Clinic is widely considered Eakins’ finest work. The 8’ by 6’ painting, which stands as a testament to the strides Philadelphia made in the medical and educational fields, depicts famed Philadelphia Dr. Samuel D. Gross performing bone surgery on a young man, while a woman often thought to be the patient’s mother cringes in the middle ground. Depicted in Jefferson’s surgical ampitheater, Gross is dramatically caught in a shaft of light from the skylight, and turns majestically away from the patient to address his students as his assistants continue their work. From this perspective, the viewer occupies a seat alongside Gross’ students. At the right, Eakins depicts himself in the audience, attentively recording the scene.

The Gross Clinic, which Eakins completed when he was 31, was submitted for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition but was rejected from the Fine Art Gallery in Philadelphia’s Memorial Hall because of its shocking content.

Probably through the machinations of Dr. Gross and his colleagues, however, it was placed on view on the Centennial grounds at the United States Army Post Hospital, in a ward filled with hospital bedding and furniture. Commentators wondered at the placement: “It was one of the most powerful and life-like pictures to be seen at the Exhibition, and should have had a place at the Art Gallery, where it would have been seen but for an incomprehensible decision by the Selecting Committee.”

The critic William Clark—who had earlier written, “This portrait of Dr. Gross is a great work—we know of nothing greater that has ever been executed in America,” returned to his defense of the picture: “There is nothing so fine in the American section of the Art Department of the Exhibition and it is a great pity that the squeamishness of the Selection Committee compelled the artist to find a place in the United States Hospital Building. It is rumored that the blood on Dr. Gross’s fingers made some of the committee members sick, but, judging from the quality of the works exhibited by them we fear that it was not the blood alone that made them sick. Artists have before now been known to sicken at the sight of pictures by younger men which they in their souls were compelled to acknowledge were beyond their emulation.” (Marc Simpson, in The 1870s, essay in Thomas Eakins (Philadelphia Museum of Art 2001) ed. Darrel Sewell)

An art critic for the New York Tribune called it “one of the most powerful, horrible yet fascinating pictures that has been painted anywhere in this century …” In 2002, when it was exhibited in the Philadelphia Museum of Art-organized Thomas Eakins: American Realist retrospective exhibition at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman called it “hands down, the finest 19th century American painting …”

The painting was purchased for $200 by Jefferson alumni and given to the institution in 1878. It has remained on view at Jefferson, where Eakins himself studied anatomy, since its donation, except for periodic loans to exhibitions across the country.

About the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's oldest continually operating school of fine arts and museum. A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts presented by the President of the United
States of America, the Academy is a recognized leader in fine arts education. The institution's world-class collection of American art continues to grow and includes major works by the Academy's faculty and alumni, both current and historic.

About the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest art museums in the United States, showcasing more than 2,000 years of exceptional human creativity in masterpieces of painting, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts and architectural settings from Europe, Asia and the Americas. The striking neoclassical building stands on a nine-acre site above the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and houses more than 200 galleries. The Museum offers a wide variety of enriching activities, including programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Art Law Blog- Eakins

The Jefferson Trustees failed to understand the love of Thomas Eakins in the Philadelphia art community. Artists who like realism and all that it holds intellectually about the human condition put aesthetics above money every day. Only the cold hard analysis of business would look beyond the artistic value and transform this painting into bricks and steel to house the new medicine, devoid of human touch.

The Art Law Blog: "Well, that's exactly what's happened here (local art museums and governmental institutions have 45 days to match the offer), and the university is still coming in for the same kind of criticism."

The Gross Clinic Composition

Originally uploaded by Charles Hankin.
The mastery of Eakins painting is founded in the space created by the composition of the figures. The tension is between the act of the surgery and the revulsion of the witness. The students are only minor players, lost in the shadows of the painting. Dr. Gross is talking to the viewer. He stands between fear and knowledge. The Philadelphia Art & Design Network / Resource a Philadelphia based nonprofit organization

The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins sold for more than four times the arts budget of PA. No wonder the art world is starving. The Philadelphia Art & Design Network / Resource a Philadelphia based nonprofit organization"The PA Budget was passed on July 2, 2006. Pennsylvania was granted a 5 percent increase in both grants for the arts and the administrative budget for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. These two increases bring the agency to $15,225,000 in grants for the arts and $1,197,000 in the administrative budget. This is the first increase the agency has seen in two fiscal years. "

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Welcome to Phillyville: Eakins

This is a good start, ACT UP FOR ART!

Welcome to Phillyville: Eakins: "Hopefully each of my readers will take the time to send at least one fax. We need to hold our elected officials responsible for this sale. The City long ago should have identified this painting as a priceless asset and made arrangements to prevent precisely this type of plunder. They did not. "

Philadelphia Inquirer | 11/14/2006 | Art | Dissecting a masterpiece

The best review of a painting I've read in a long time!

Philadelphia Inquirer | 11/14/2006 | Art | Dissecting a masterpiece: "the sacred and the profane captured in a glance."

OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts

This line strikes a chord. What is the effect of recruiting wealthy business leaders for non- profit boards whom have little knowledge of the aesthetic value of art to a community? It seems clear that the Eakins sale might be the result of a cold bottom line approach to culture. The same economic model that has given such a huge profit to Wal Mart. Are trustees stewards or profiteers?

OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts: "Nor are they the property of the trustees, who are meant to hold them in trust for the people of Buffalo, but who now show that they cannot be trusted."

Foundations: Abraham Lincoln Foundation

For those who think Thomas Eakins was the last great painter of Philadelphia you might want to check this out. A living Master.

Foundations: Abraham Lincoln Foundation: "Mastery and Meaning,
The Art of Nelson Shanks at the Union League

This extensive exhibit is Open free to the public on Saturdays and Sundays
Tours of the Union League are also available

October 7 – December 17, 2006
10:00am –2:00PM
The Union League of Philadelphia
140 South Broad Street
For more information (215) 851-8793

Blinq on letting Go

The issue is not what good the money could be used for but rather what respect an institution has for protecting a cultural heritage. Stewardship means more than just buying and selling property at the whims of the times. Value ebbs and flows with the interests of collective culture. What might be worth $68 million today could be worthless 100 years from now. The image of The Gross Clinic by Eakins is linked to the idea of human knowledge. That is what the painter fought for when he tried to strip away the moral veil of modesty. To show the surgery of the time is no different than showing open heart operations on TV today.

Just this past year there was great excitement over the exhibit of the plastic corpse which raised millions of dollars for the Franklin institute.

It is sad that there are those who dismiss the visual arts as unimportant.

The State of PA raised millions to build the Kimmel for the orchestra. I bet many of those who go to hear the sweet sounds of Mahler are on the Board of Jefferson. How many of them have allowed themselves to see the magic of the Clinic?

$68 million = 1360 Pew grants for the Arts

Blinq: "Let it go. We've got bigger problems. Although it makes me wonder what we could get for that boxer standing outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What makes a painting worth $68 million?

The question of the sale of The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins is about the value of the painting to Philadelphia and the people of Pennsylvania. The Trustees have the right to sell the property they control as a nonprofit corporation without the restrictions of an art museum. The same was true of the New York Library when they sold the Durand painting to the same buyer. In our culture a value is simply what someone is willing to pay for it.

The moral issue is then one of place. Does an object belong to a location? Could Stone Hedge be moved to a better place? Would independence Hall be better located in Fairmount Park? Art is transportable and can be owned by anyone.

What is lost here is the intention, not of the painter, of those who bought it and gave it to the College. Was there any thought that sometime in the future the monetary value would outstrip the intellectual value of the painting? Does this painting need to become a destination attraction, used to draw tourists to a museum far from the city that it was birthed?

There will be no public uproar because art does not matter to any but a select few. Would not the money spent be better used to provide healthcare for those who work with low pay and no health insurance?

God bless those who shop at Wal Mart, perhaps they will be able to buy a print of the Gross Clinic along with their baby formula.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Eminent domain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The City of Philadelphia should use eminent domain to protect the right of the public to have the Gross Clinic, by Eakins, stay in it's place of origin.

Eminent domain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The exercise of eminent domain is not limited to real property. Governments may also condemn personal property, including a contract or a franchise, as well as intangible property such as patents, trade secrets and copyrights."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

National Gallery Scores Masterpiece by Eakins -

This sounds like insider trading at best. The real question is, why did Jefferson University decide to give up it's patrimony. Is it that art no longer is part of medicine? Perhaps Jefferson is merely a technical school removed from the classical idea of education.

National Gallery Scores Masterpiece by Eakins - "'This is the Holy Grail of American painting,' said John Wilmerding, former deputy director at the National Gallery. A member of the gallery's board, Wilmerding is also a consultant to Alice Walton. 'It is monumental in its ambition and shows the triumph of the individual.'"

Speed of Life: Keep Eakins' "Gross Clinic" in Philadelphia

This seems to be a pattern. Buy master works of American art in financially weak institutions. Says a lot about our Walmart economy where "the new" has little value. Why not put an "art tax" on Walmart!

Speed of Life: Keep Eakins' "Gross Clinic" in Philadelphia: "The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, founded by the Wal-Mart heiress Alice L. Walton and under construction in Bentonville, Arkansas, is trying to pry away another important painting from its longstanding home."

Matthews The Younger: Does Anyone Have $68,000,001?

Right, we get to move the Barnes and keep Rocky and give up an Eakins. This is why Philly is a low class art town.

Matthews The Younger: Does Anyone Have $68,000,001?: "So the painting sold for $68,000,000. I say we make it a term of the sale that they can have that painting for that much money only if they are willing to take the Rocky statue with them. I also vote that the Crystal Bridges Museum change their name before they open."

artblog on Eakins sale

This is so bad for Philadelphia. I wonder if they would sell Billy Penn off of City Hall?

artblog: "Poor Thomas Eakins. Almost 100 years after his death and he still can't get a break in his hometown."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Walmart Rapes Philly Art

This is a moral disgrace for the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!

Philadelphia Inquirer | 11/11/2006 | City Art Icon About to Be Sold

Philadelphia Inquirer | 11/11/2006 | City Art Icon About to Be Sold: "Thomas Eakins' masterpiece The Gross Clinic - an iconic painting that is irrevocably identified with Philadelphia, where it was painted more than 125 years ago - is poised for sale by Thomas Jefferson University for a record $68 million to a partnership of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and a new museum planned by Wal-Mart heirs in Arkansas."