Michael Faubion, former National Endowment for the Arts employee of 35 years, Writes in Support of "Greenwood Pond: Double Site"

On March 16, 2024, Michael Faubion wrote the following letter to the Des Moines Art Center (DMAC) Director Kelly Baum concerning plans to demolish Greenwood Pond: Double Site, a site-specific installation by the internationally acclaimed leader of the land art movement, Mary Miss, commissioned for the Art Center’s permanent collection. The work, which opened in 1996, is in a diminished condition with some sections fenced off, suggesting the DMAC has not fulfilled its contractual obligation to “reasonably protect and maintain” the work. The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) is calling for the DMAC to reverse it demolition decision and, instead, to engage in meaningful consultations with the artist and others to find a solution that restores the artwork and develops a long-term, ongoing maintenance plan. 



What a terrible precedent for a museum to set by destroying an artist’s work — no less by an artist who was specifically commissioned by the museum.  

This travesty has certainly placed the Des Moines Art Center on the map — but for the wrong reasons.  The national outcry from the arts community attests to the importance of the issue and should help reverse the museum’s decision.  

There are so many reasons why the work’s removal would be a bad decision, but I’ll focus on just one.  As a grant recipient of federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts to support “Greenwood Pond,” a permanent public art project, the Des Moines Art Center is legally obliged to maintain it as part of the museum’s collection.   

We in the national arts community hope that, for the sake of the artist Mary Miss, the museum, and the future of similar public artworks, you and the museum’s board will see reason and reverse your decision.  “Greenwood Pond” is a significant work that deserves to be saved!  

Michael Faubion 

Former 35-year NEA staff member


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