Fine art

Significant gift celebrated at MRM

Museum receives entire Clark Funk Native American collection

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 9/4/18

Millicent Rogers Museum Executive Director Dr. Caroline Fernald had some big news when she put out her latest newsletter. Aside from noting the success of the museum’s annual …

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Fine art

Significant gift celebrated at MRM

Museum receives entire Clark Funk Native American collection

Posted

Millicent Rogers Museum Executive Director Dr. Caroline Fernald had some big news when she put out her latest newsletter.

Aside from noting the success of the museum’s annual Turquoise Gala, she also excitedly told museum members and patrons that the institution was the recipient of a very special gift.

“We are starting to see traces of fall here in Taos, which comes as a welcome relief from a hot summer. However, the summer months at the Millicent Rogers Museum brought a whirlwind of activity, and I’d like to share some exciting news with you,” Fernald wrote. "First, we recently held our annual Turquoise Gala. The gala was both fun and successful, and we look forward to next year’s event."

Now, here’s the kicker: “This year, we received a generous donation from the estate of Clark Funk that includes over 150 works of art, funds to make improvements at the museum and contributions from his trust over the next 20 years."

Plus, she said, “thanks to the support of the museum’s board of trustees, we secured the funds to meet a match challenge from an anonymous donor to open the museum’s first permanent endowment."

While a few items from the collection may be earmarked to raise funds for the museum, more than 90 percent will become absorbed into the museum’s collection. The Clark Funk Collection consists of a wide variety of Native items, such as pottery, baskets and lifeways accoutrements mostly acquired during a time when Funk owned a curio shop in La Fonda Hotel on Taos Plaza. While many do not originate in the area, specifically Taos Pueblo, it is know historically that trading and social relationships with Plains Indian tribes existed from prehistory to the present.

“As far as the value for a museum like the Millicent Rogers, they definitely have a historical value or are of a quality that would be a very desirable addition to the museum collection,” Fernald said.

Before it can become a permanent addition, Fernald added that the collection will undergo appraisal and examination to determine individual objects’ authenticity and value. This is a normal procedure whenever a collection is given to a museum. A similar process was undertaken in the 1980s when then-MRM Director Art Wolf had the entire collection appraised.

Taos art collector and philanthropist Clark Funk ensured his legacy will continue long after his death.

In addition to Millicent Rogers, Funk, who died last March at age 87, also gave some of his extensive art collection to the Harwood Museum of Art and the Taos Community Foundation. The remainder of his personal belongings were sold at an estate sale June 23 with the proceeds going to the three nonprofit organizations. Among the offerings in the sale were Funk's collection of Max Luna furniture, carvings by Patrociño Barela and art by many local artists, such as Luis Barela, Ted Egri and Inger Jirby.

Funk was born in Olney, Illinois. He moved to Las Vegas, N.M. in 1931 where his father, Lozier R. Funk, was the business manager of what was then called Normal University, now called Highlands University.

In 1939 the family moved to Taos where he remained until completion of the 10th grade. Upon completion of college he spent two years in the military. In 1953, he entered into a partnership with his father in a chain of 5 and 10’s stores in Northern New Mexico. He later became the owner of the Don Fernando Curio & Gift Shop and operated the same until its sale in 1987.

Funk helped establish the Fall Festival of Arts held each year in September and started the show called "Taos Invites Taos." He was on this committee for 17 years. He was president of the Taos Art Association for five years during the building of the community auditorium. He was selected Man of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce.

He was also active in various civic organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America and the First Aid Division of the American Red Cross. He retired in 1987, having traveled in China, Russia and Alaska.

For more information about the endowment and how to make a gift to the museum's future, contact Fernald at caroline@millicentrogers.org.

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