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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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On this Metropolitan Museum question, for example, was had quite a controversy in 1971 on the propriety of the Metropolitan Museum of Art not only making an incursion into the park, into Central Park, but specifically, making this incursion over which there was great controversy for the benefit of adding a whole new pavilion, the Lehman Collection, to the museum. I had a memo from Punch, who knew that I was very uneasy about this whole business, asking us not to comment on the matter until the trustees themselves had decided what to do about the controversy. It was under consideration in the board of trustees. Punch asked me to be quiet about it, which was of course a request that I respected; and then, later, I had a memo in which he informed me that the reconstruction of the museum and the addition of the Lehman Pavilion were going to go ahead, and had gotten all the clearances. He ended the memo with a little comment, “About a year ago I indicated my agreement with the trustees for the construction of the Lehman Pavilion.” This is quoted from the memo. And he wrote that sentence knowing that I was very, very uneasy about the whole thing, the whole question of what I felt was the super-development of the museum and incursion into Central Park.

Then he added, “I think, without any question, every obstacle has now been dealt with, and I would like us to come out positively for the construction.”

I was concerned about that very much, and had a memorandum from Mrs. [Ada Louise] Huxtable a little bit later, which starts off with, “I mention the fact to you that the art staff of this paper is unanimously anti-museum plan. This raises a delicate point. If the editorial page comes out pro-plan, that will understandably be used very authoritatively by the Metropolitan. It will be a distinct embarrassment to the art critics and writers of the

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