The Convention of the American Federation of Arts at the Metropolitan Museum
Viewed in perspective and as an accomplished fact, the Tenth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Arts may be regarded as an unqualified success : as to attendance, as to choice of subjects taken up, as to importance of speakers, and as to interest aroused.
The entire first day, May 15, was devoted to the subject of War Memorials. Charles Moore, Chairman of the National Commission of Fine Arts, distinguished between war memorials of ideal significance purely and those that are to be used as structures for public purposes. This point formed the storm center of discussion throughout the day. Edwin H. Blashfield spoke from the standpoint of color as a factor in memorials ; Frederick Law Olmsted considered the park as a memorial ; Harold S. Buttenheim favored the memorial community building ; and Cass Gilbert advocated renaming landmarks of nature so that these may serve as ever-lasting monuments to the heroic deeds of the great war. In a paper by Morris Gray, President of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, read by Edward Robinson, Di-rector of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the ideal value of the memorial was stanchly upheld. Senator Root was likewise in favor of the ideal memorial; he maintained that art alone can carry on in times of peace that spirit of high idealism which called us into the war. An interesting feature of the discussion was the suggestion of Dr. George F. Kunz in regard to a memorial coinage. This later formed the subject of a resolution of the Federation containing a recommendation to Congress to the effect that the issue of coinage for 1920 or some succeeding year be designed as a memorial to the ideals for which America entered the war. Another resolution bearing on the subject of war memorials was that containing the recommendation of the American Federation of Arts to Congress that in the event that a national cemetery for American soldiers should be established, the National Commission of Fine Arts be given supervision as to both design and execution in regard to this cemetery as a whole, and to all landscape, architectural, and sculptural features in detail.
The morning session on Friday, May 16, was devoted to the plans and purposes of the American Federation of Arts, especially with regard to the development of its work in connection with reconstruction. Robert W. de Forest, President of the Federation, declared that it was the intention of the Federation to inaugurate a nation-wide campaign to make the advantages of traveling collections, as well as other opportunities which achieve the same end, available in small communities that have no museums. Mr. de Forest favored the establishment of small museums in connection with public libraries in all parts of the country. He likewise indicated various public services of the Federation, such as placing of art on the free list in the tariff, the placing of control over designs for honor medals in their hands, etc.
The attendance, larger than ever before, indicated a greater interest in the work of the Federation.