*** President Obama Appoints National Civic Art Society Advisor Bruce Cole to Eisenhower Memorial Commission ***
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 3, 2013
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President Obama Appoints National Civic Art Society Advisor Bruce Cole to Eisenhower Memorial Commission
The National Civic Art Society applauds President Barack Obama for appointing Bruce Cole to the Commission overseeing the construction of the National Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. Cole has strongly opposed Frank Gehry’s design for the Memorial in articles (see here and here) and congressional testimony. He officially joined the Commission last week.
A previous chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Cole sits on the Board of Advisors of the National Civic Art Society, which has been leading the fight to stop Gehry’s design. In May 2012, Cole participated in a panel co-sponsored by NCAS on the topic “Monumental Fights: The Role of Memorials in Civic Life.” (Video available here.)
A former professor of art history who has written 14 books and received nine honorary degrees, Cole is the first expert on art and architecture to serve on the Eisenhower Commission. The remainder of the Commission consists of four Senators, four Representatives, and three presidential appointees: a businessman and two former lobbyists.
The appointment is the first action President Obama has taken with regard to the Memorial. Cole is filling the seat on the Commission vacated by David Eisenhower, President Eisenhower’s grandson, who resigned in protest in October 2011.
“This is a momentous turning point in the Memorial fight. Not only has President Obama acknowledged the controversy, he has knowingly appointed an outspoken opponent of the design,” said Justin Shubow, president of NCAS. “We salute the President for his fair-minded, judicious decision to add a different voice to the debate.”
“From now on, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission will no longer act like a politburo lacking all dissent. It will no longer be able to ignore the overwhelming public and political opposition to the design.” Shubow added, “No doubt the Commission will benefit enormously from the insight of someone highly versed in the American commemorative tradition and the architecture of our nation’s capital.”
The next important milestone for the Memorial is September 12, when it goes before the National Capital Planning Commission, a federal agency that has not yet given preliminary approval of the project.