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PRINT February 1975

Pasadena’s Collapse and the Simon Takeover, Diary of a Disaster

Patron: commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.

—Samuel Johnson, Dictionary, 1755

THE FINANCIAL COLLAPSE OF the Pasadena Art Museum, and its subsequent takeover by Norton Simon, an exceedingly rich and powerful Southern California industrialist, raises issues that extend far beyond the problem of the survival of this particular museum. It poses acute questions about the power and accountability of museum trustees, the lack in many American art museums of carefully thought-out policies within their local communities, and the general role a museum should assume within the community of art museums throughout the country.

Problems of control and direction exist for museums throughout the United States, but in museums in the East, they appear to be less severe if only because most of them had an earlier start, better funding, and a larger reservoir of available

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