Update 11:45 a.m. Tuesday June 4
The city’s revamped website mistakenly states that the totem pole deacession review panel today starts at 5:30 p.m.
The meeting actually will begin at 2:30 p.m. City spokeswoman Maria Lee provides this explanation:
(T)his was a technical issue where all times on the site were displaying in the Eastern Time Zone. The issue has been resolved on the back end but it may take a while for some servers to reflect that.
As we wrote about here, Tacoma’s Arts Commission will take the rare step of convening a so-called “deaccession review panel” Tuesday to consider whether the city’s aging totem pole in Fireman’s Park should be removed from the municipal art collection.
So, who will be on the panel? Here’s the list provided by city arts administrator Amy McBride:
J.D. Elquist, landmarks and arts commissioner
Ed Echtle, landmarks commissioner
Marygrace Jennings, cultural resources manager State of Washington
Lynette Miller, Washington State History Museum Curator, with a Northwest Native American specialty
Brandon Reynon, Archeologist Puyallup Tribe of Indians
Jack Curtright, Northwest Native American art dealer and appraiser
McBride and city historic preservation officer Reuben McKnight will moderate the panel’s discussion.
In addition, Shaun Peterson, a Puyallup artist and carver who’s been hired as a cultural consultant, will provide background, but won’t be voting on the issue, McBride said.
The last time a deaccession panel was convened was in 2009, she added.
“It is not frequent,” McBride said in an email to me Monday. “Last time we had a panel review for a bunch of artwork under consideration for deaccession. All small works. It hadn’t been done in years. We had completed a thorough collection review and there were several works that needed consideration.”
Ultimately, the panel decided to remove some works from the collection, while keeping others in it, McBride said.
Commissioned by local boosters, two Alaskan tribal members carved the pole for Tacoma in 1903, partly to best a 60-foot tall pole stolen from an Alaskan village and erected in Seattle four years earlier. Tacoma’s pole was declared a city landmark in 1975 and long has been part of the city’s municipal art collection.
Structural engineers recently found that Tacoma’s 110-year-old totem pole is a falling hazard. The pole is now temporarily braced while city officials determine what to do with it. The arts commission empaneled the deacession committee after a working group that included Elquist and Peterson recommended the pole be taken down and left to rot in a public park, with signs telling its history.
“Just because a deaccession review is recommended doesn’t mean that is the outcome,” McBride said. “It is a chance to review a work carefully so works in a collection are not subject to being removed based on trends or whims.”
Tacoma’s landmarks and arts commissions, both of which have authority over the pole, have yet to make a final decision on its future. Regardless of what the deaccession review panel recommends, city officials have said no decision will be made without public input.
The deacession review panel will meet at 2:30 p.m. in Room 248 of the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market Street.