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If you want a truly unique experience in Muskegon you will have to visit the Muskegon Museum of Art. It is enviable throughout the art world and a definite must-see location in downtown Muskegon. The idea for an art museum originally came from C.H. Hackley, a prominent lumber baron who decided to make Muskegon his permanent home even after the lumber boom was over. Hackley, and others, were determined to save Muskegon and make it one of the most distinctive cities of its size in the country. Hackley in particular did that by investing a good portion of his personal fortune back into the city of Muskegon, particularly in public projects including progressive new schools, a library, a hospital, and a city park.A place to feature art was high on Hackley's priority list, but other projects always seemed to be more pressing to him and he died in 1905 before his dream was realized. In his will though he set up an expendable trust of $150,000 to be managed by the Muskegon Public Schools Board of Education for the express purpose of purchasing pieces of art. This trust became known as the Hackley Picture Fund. By 1910 that fund had already been used to purchase some of the most valuable pieces still residing in the museum and the Board determined that they needed a museum quality facility to hold the pieces in. The lots next to Hackley Public Library were purchased and construction of the museum was completed in 1912.The dedication ceremony for the Hackley Art Gallery was on June 21st, 1912 and was international news with press from New York, Boston, Chicago, and London. Across the years many pieces were acquired, some controversial at the time, like the piece Study in Rose and Brown, which is now one the true treasures of the collection. There were also other benefactors, the most prominent of which being L.C. Walker. The Walker family has continued to contribute significant pieces of art every decade since 1940. In 1979 ground was broken for a new addition to the gallery and in 1980 the building was completed and the facility was renamed the Muskegon Museum of Art with the Hackley Galleries and Walker Galleries. Then in 1983 the Muskegon Museum of Art Foundation Board of Trustees was established and they maintain another fund for the continuation and improvement of the art gallery. The Muskegon Museum of Art is certainly a treasure amongst the Muskegon community. It offers more than just the art itself. It truly represents the roots of this community and offers enrichment for the community through its rotating exhibits and school outreach and tour programs.
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