Oral history interview with William H. (Bill) Burgess, 1973 April
Oral history interview with William H. (Bill) Burgess, 1973 April
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Summary: Interview with Bill Burgess conducted by Lynn Katzman for the Archives of American Art "Art World in Turmoil" oral history project.
Willim H. (Bill) Burgess is a museum administrator in New York, New York. Burgess was a founder of the Studio Musuem in Harlem, a privately run community museum.
This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.
The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with William H. (Bill) Burgess in April 1973. The interview took place in New York City, and was conducted by Lynn Katzman for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This interview is part of the Art World in Turmoil oral history project.
This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.
LYNN KATZMAN: This is Lynn Katzman. Today I am interviewing Bill Burgess of the Studio Museum in Harlem for the project "The Art World in Transition." Why don't you start off by giving me the history of the Studio Museum?
BILL BURGESS: The Studio Museum in Harlem is roughly five years old it's in its fifth year. It started off with just a loft space here in central Harlem located on Fifth Avenue between 125th and 126th Streets. It really was kind of the brainchild of a Black artist by the name of Betty Blayton; she married recently and is now Betty Blayton Taylor. She's now director of the Children's Art Carnival which is also located here in Harlem. It was with her interest and the kind of contacts she made through the Museum of Modern Art that brought about the Studio Museum in Harlem. The association with the Museum of Modern Art was not for very long; it was a very short-lived association. The Studio Museum became private and became completely Black run, that is to say, the entire administrative staff and personnel is Black. There was also a kind of revamping of the board; the board was trying to pull itself together in terms of being representative of the community, since it was defined as a community museum. We realized that certain aspects of the community can't support the Museum or what we consider the needs of the Museum in terms of financial monies to help it along. So as a result we chose that direction; that is to say, we always realized that money was going to be a problem because of the type of people that were going to be sitting on our board and because we wanted to find out from them as voices of the community what really should go on here. They really helped define this place. The Museum first started out with having very few actual programs, activities and events, and really was sort of like a meeting place for the people in Harlem, They could come here and meet. There is no centralized meeting place in the Harlem community.
LYNN KATZMAN: Was it a meeting place for cultural activities?
BILL BURGESS: Cultural activities, teas for churches, various interest groups in the community wanting to get together and having a place where they could have meetings and things like that. And that's really how it started. Then it developed an exhibition program which has now been extended to the point of having at least fifteen exhibitions per year. So the Museum basically functions as a museum of exhibitions and a community meeting place, with two workshops—a film workshop and a printmaking workshop.
LYNN KATZMAN: At that point, what were your financial resources?
BILL BURGESS: The major source of money for the Museum was the New York State Council on The Arts, and up until this day, the Council is one of the major funding sources of the Museum. My particular area, which has been education, has brought more of a closer contact and more of a critical reading of what has to go on here programmatically for the community. I've been here since September 1, 1971. In that year the major thrust or direction of the educational department has been to formally set up a program different from established museums. Usually one goes around and says, "This Greek vase is important because it's a masterpiece. Don't touch it because—" or "Just don't touch it," and no because. The thrust of our lectures or what we call "gallery raps" basically deals with the concerns of building a cultural institution, and how it's important in the scheme of things that we have a particular, or that particular, exhibition which the people are viewing at that time. Why is it that it's there? It's not that we're saying "These are all masterpieces." In many cases they aren't. We're saying that what we're trying to do is give a visual spectrum of Afro American art from the nineteenth century straight on through. And also in that process trying to show what's going on in the Caribbean, in South America, and in Africa. And the exhibitions have been that comprehensive. They've also been very geographically representative of the United States.
LYNN KATZMAN: How have you been involved with local community artists?
BILL BURGESS: We try to meet the needs of local community artists. Now, sure, artists have come in off the street and said, "Look, we want an exhibition," Well, one just can't give an exhibition to everybody who comes in. So what we're trying to do is set up an artist-in-residence program. Those artists who show potential, who appear to be very good are given studio space for a year where they can develop. We've been into this program for two years now. Artists would apply for these positions. There were seven for each year, so that means that we've been able to provide loft space for fourteen artists in central Harlem. We couldn't give them materials or supplies, so we try to find little ways by which they could bring in salaries to provide those things for themselves. We had another project called "studio in the streets." We had artists who had applied for the studio program, or who had not applied for the studio program but wanted to have some kind of ongoing relationship with the Museum, and we've found them defined spaces in the community where they could execute murals. They also involved children in that they taught children how to do murals. So there were sections done by artists and sections done by children artists.
LYNN KATZMAN: Are those murals still in existence?
BILL BURGESS: They still exist. One is on Fifth Avenue and 12Sth Street. Another one is between Lenox and Seventh Avenue on 126th Street. And we've continued that program. Now, since the educational department has been in existence, we use those artists who have been in the artist-in-residence program as docents. When school groups come into the Museum, or community groups, suburban groups, or other kinds of groups, they have a chance to talk to artists as they are in the creative process. So, in a sense, this gives the Museum a kind of unique feature that no other museum in Metropolitan New York has. That is to say, that art is being actively created here on the premises, and with a certain maturity, and with the development of style and technique, those artists can exhibit here at the Museum. So all of those things, you know, radiate out of the artist-in-residence program. Also, exhibitions are set up by the artists in the artist-in-residence program which go around to labor unions, churches, and schools. These exhibitions have been planned and executed by the artists themselves. They arrange insurance and security and all that with the agency that's sponsoring the exhibition. The Museum has no kind of financial connection to that kind of operation. They provide some revenue for the artists which we're glad about, because that's what we're concerned about.
Another thing that has been happening in terms of education is that we’re trying to define a new and more exciting approach to reaching the people before they visit the Museum. We feel that the Studio Museum in Harlem is a very special place. It's different from institutions like the Metropolitan Museum. We don't have the hang-ups of traditional ideas that have to be maintained. We're very small, and that allows us flexibility; we don't have to be rigid to the nth degree in our programs, say, for an itinerary for a given day's visit. If a teacher were to call up and say that her class had seen an exhibition two weeks ago, for example, or the three exhibitions we had on view three weeks ago, and that what she wanted for her students now was a practical experience, or exposure to another type of art form, we could arrange it.
Through our video, or film, workshop we've been able to create educational videotapes. For example, when an exhibition is done downstairs, we try to have videotapes made of the artist in the creative process doing those works, explaining how they did them, why they did them. And we gear the tapes to various age groups. So a given artist would probably have to do at least three videotapes for elementary, junior high, and senior high adult audiences. So that instead of the traditional museum experience of somebody talking to you and telling you that this is what it's all about today on your one free day in art, the artists themselves talk to you on videotape. This is the closest we can do. We can't keep the artists here every day. So we have videotape monitors up and artists talk to you. They welcome you to the museum, they tell you about their work, they guide you around the exhibition. Okay.
Before these groups come to visit educational preparatory materials are sent out to schools. A letter comes from me greeting them, telling them a brief history of the Museum, that it's a Black museum, what its purposes for being are, what its basic philosophy is, what you'll see there today, who your guide will be, who your gallery rapper will be, and other information. And in addition to that, there are some things to think about that come from my desk that are either addressed to teachers or to students: that they will either make something, or think about something. For example, if the exhibition is on crafts, they'd make a craft item before they come in. Or they're asked certain questions: where are crafts? Do they find them in churches, do they find them at home, do they find them on the street? Give examples of crafts that they know. Then there's a suggested bibliography that is pulled together by the staff.
I want to tell you this about the staff. I came to the Studio Museum being one person. The Museum is very poor, so as a result we haven't been able to have a very diverse and very complex educational department structure. Our materials are done by work-study students: students in college, some in art, some in history, some in education, some in social studies, some in Black studies, some in business, and including neighborhood youth corps, high school students. They come in and pull together various kinds of information. Like the bibliography I'm talking about in terms of crafts—they pull together a brief synopsis talking about what each book meant or said. Then the teacher can pull from that additional preparation for her kids before she brings them to the exhibition. Wow the other kinds of things we're doing are the workshops. We've run ten different types of workshops: creative writing, creative movement, jewelry making, printmaking, figure drawing, illustration, tap dancing, and twentieth century Afro American art (an in-service course for teachers) trying to reintroduce cultural and artistic ideas into school curricula.
Basically here in central Harlem (Black Harlem, Spanish Harlem), in the past ten years or so, cultural programs were eliminated for higher reading scores because parents were asking for those things. Now they realize that they may have gotten those higher reading scores but the kids still don't comprehend well. So, as a result, cultural programs are now of importance, and they're coming back into the schools. So we try to train the teachers to train the students. We figure that if, in some workshops, we train the students, they in turn can train other students, thereby arousing an interest on the part of teachers to come in and get some kind of extra training. Eventually we would like to get some kind of extra training. Eventually we would like to get to the point where we won't be so formalized as a course or a workshop. So if, say, a teacher, Mrs. Goldstein in P.S. 201, needs two weeks of video training because the school has video equipment but nobody knows how to use it, we could do it. We could teach her that in two weeks, and if, to get her out of school, we have to sign a little scroll that says she did perform so and so very well today, we'll do that. We want to get to the point where the needs of the students, as well as of the teachers, as well as of the community are met in terms of how they define them. If they need an instructor for ten weeks, we hope to have it for them for ten weeks. Whatever it takes for them to learn what they need to learn, let's do it that way, instead of just these different workshops.
Then there were other workshops on: how to take a good picture, video technique and community communications. We had kids in the community documenting their community. Through this they saw that even though the trash cans and the dilapidated tenants are there, it can change. And that there is some kind of historical documentation needed on that. They're seeing how urban renewal is coming in and pushing them out. How to take a good picture is basically the same thing. Kids are just photographing everything on their block, and then working up an aesthetics for evaluating what is good and what is bad. They're making their own information. We want to get more things that way. Kids design our posters for advertisements. Our workshop students design the flyers. I've always wanted the films we have to go more in the direction of feature films. One of the programs that we had was the portrayal of 5 Blacks in American cinema. That went over very well. We're very, very proud of it. We got so much concern from the audience; they want more documentary films, films that they can't see on television, films that they can't see in commercial theaters. We've steered more into the documentary level, having our films depict the Third World, political, economic and cultural things. So, in a year, we've moved from one person to a staff of twenty-five people. We have ten workshop instructors, and the rest of the staff is made up of college students who either volunteer or come through Neighborhood Youth Corps, Urban Corps—any of the youth service agencies. That's how they make their salaries.
LYNN KATZMAN: How do you see the Studio Museum relating to other cultural institutions? You have ties with the Board of Education, for instance.
BILL BURGESS: First, let's deal with the community because that's how we decided that we'd even deal with the Board of Sd and other institutions. We have ongoing drag rehabilitation programs where we go into the drug centers and then try to fund raise for their kind of restricted programs back to the museums. Thus, we try to have cross-cultural programs there. We do the same for day care centers and schools. So they might ask for a specific thing, like a talk on nineteenth century Afro American art. We try to speak to the needs people express. The way we introduced ourselves to teachers was to invite the various teacher organizations to have their meetings here. By doing that, we found ways to begin a dialogue with the Board of Ed. Now we have a fulltime community liaison from the Board of Ed who tries to find ways that the Board of Ed, through its teachers, can hook into the Studio Museum more valuably.
One project, funded by the Museums Collaborative, is a library-resource center for District 5 teachers. This particular project is quite unique and has not been done before. The Studio Museum—a community museum—District 5 from the Board of Ed, and the Metropolitan Museum have decided to build this library. The Met is responsible for two exhibitions that will be designed together by a community person, a person from the Studio Museum, a person from District 5 and a person from the Exhibitions Department from the Metropolitan Museum. These exhibitions will be able to tour around in all the District 5 schools. They are double component exhibitions, meaning that one part will be permanent objects, and one part will be of African and/or Afro American objects that can be used in the classrooms by the students. So it's built with a usable collection which will probably be depleted in a year. We don't expect to keep the objects. We want to break down the notion of the preciousness of objects. Some are and have to be kept for the sake of history, and others can be and should be used so that people have a real sense ofthem. The other part of the project is that the Studio Museum will house a lot of audio-visual materials, slides, books, periodicals which the teachers of the District can check out. And the District has to provide fulltime staff people who could help the teachers integrate what they check out into their curricula. If the teachers have no basic plan to integrate the materials into the classroom, then the District staff will help show them ways. You see, we don't want an ordinary, regular library. If neither the District people who are located at the Studio Museum nor the teachers who come in from the District schools can pull together a program, then I don't think it will work. But I think it will work because of the way we're developing it. We're not telling them to come in for X number of books or slides. We want to do it in a way where they come in and ask for them. So that's one way the community, the school board, and another cultural institution are connected to what we're doing here.
LYNN KATZMAN: I'd like to get some of your ideas about community arts in general, and in terms of peoples' survival.
BILL BURGESS: I feel that museums as we know them today will have to modify themselves. It's been said a whole lot by everyone. But I think now they really have to get off. The demands that are being made now, and will be made more strongly on places like the Met, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney will force the museums to really define their communities and to speak to their needs. Perhaps the biggest asset of the Studio Museum is that it is small and that it doesn't have to labor on its history, that it doesn't have a major collection, that it doesn't have to be concerned with getting the next major art acquisition from Europe. So as a result, its priorities are different. They've been pared down to being basically defined by the people it serves and the area that it serves. In a way, this makes it very hard because established museums, which are competing for the same monies that we are competing for, tend to really not be of any assistance or any real help.
I think the reason I was able to get the Metropolitan Museum into this association with us was that I worked there for one and a half years. There has not been any real concerted efforts by the established museums to go out and help the community museums. Sure, on occasion they've brought Black and other minority people into these museums. But it's been on such limited programs and grants, and the time has been so limited that the people really do not get trained. They come out not being able to really help the situation or the community museum behind them. It's such a waste of money. By having been in an established museum, I know there's a lot of wasted money. They have planning groups that plan for two or three years that never get off the ground with any real projects. They never talk to the right people about what should go down.
Decentralization is a term that's kicked around by established museums but they don't really mean it. One way I think would end their problems very quickly is that there are enough community museums located and visible now in metropolitan New York City that the Met, or any of these museums, don't have to say, "Now we're going to build an annex in Queens, the Bronx or Staten Island." It just might be in a society building out in Staten Island or an historical agency in the Bronx, or a public library—any facilities that exist where they could push personnel, art, programs and activities. This seems to be the only direction they can go. Or else, they become more rarified, saying, "Look, I only deal with what's around 80th Street and Fifth Avenue and that's it. I'm not going to pull any punches about it. That's the way it will be. We've been doing it for one hundred years, I'm not going to give any more lip service to the cultural development of this Puerto Mean kid or this Black kid in remote Queens because X don't think there's any real concern about these things." So what I'm saying is that established museums have to define themselves, their community has to come forth, and perhaps even help the museums define themselves, and that, until they find their direction, they have to help existing community museums. So there can be a kind of camaraderie established where there is none of that feeling of backstabbing, or the feeling that "I can be crushed by this leviathan because I'm small." Maybe some camaraderie can happen.
Since the Met has not shown any real, earnest concern in Afro American art collecting—and there have been Afro American painters in this country since slaves, since they even began here—that doesn't preclude exhibitions of this work. There are museums popping up—Afro American ones—where they can go and get the expertise so they can do exhibitions well, and not have the fiascos like "Harlem on my Mind." Those kind of associations can be set up, and these places can work together. And since we all ultimately hit the same foundations, this wouldn't put the foundations into the position of saying, "We've been giving so much to predominantly white established institutions for the past fifty years, and we'd give some funds to the Black institutions, but we don't know them well enough." One thing the Met or other established cultural institutions could do is to help community museums locate funding sources. Also they could tell them how certain things are done—say, even just fiscal matters.
LYNN KATZMAN: Do you really think that's a possibility?
BILL BURGESS: Yes, I think I t's a possibility when they realize that there are certain things that they can do and certain things that they cannot do. You just can't be all things to all people.
LYNN KATZMAN: Do you think they're concerned with being all things to all people?
BILL BURGESS: Well, it seems as though they haven't been. They've dealt with just a very select, very elite group of people. But I think that they're going to have to.
LYNN KATZMAN:As long as they're funded by public monies, they have a responsibility to the public.
BILL BURGESS: Right. As long as they have public funds, they're responsible to the public. And I think the public is going to demand more. In a city like New York, people here are very art conscious and very cultural conscious. They're very unique in that sense. I know about other cities in the U.S. where there is one established museum and perhaps several community museums around, doing many more cooperative ventures than are even existing here in NYC. The Cleveland Museum of Art is doing fantastic programs with schools and in community service. It's just that people think they are going to lose something. But when you really start thinking about it, who did they have in the past. Who did they talk to in the past, who did they want to talk to in the past? I think they have to change that. I think they're going to have to change it. There can be more cooperation, and should be. And then we won't be competing and I won't feel that my information to, say, an established museum about setting up a workshop is going to be gobbled up and next thing I know is that the New York Times and all the major media is splashing "great workshops going on all over!" Sure, I give them a good, formula to set up a workshop. But then I need someone who has been trained in exhibition design and someone who's been trained in conservation. I think there could be something like a cultural voucher system, where personnel as well as expertise, as well as art, as well as different kinds of materials can be exchanged on that kind of basis.
LYNN KATZMAN: Do you have any concerns that, as the Studio Museum grows, it becomes itself institutionalized?
BILL BURGESS: I think that Studio Museum has so many other things to develop right now—and I'm speaking basically with a certain sense of pride right now for the Education Department because it's doing quite well for its size, its structure and what it can handle. I think there are other areas in which the Museum can go into: trying to create more facilities so that people could have more practical experience. The workshops that we've had this year go through all ages from elementary to adult. We've also done Sunday afternoon and Wednesday events speaking to specific things in the other arts—the performing arts, music and the dramatic arts. I feel that we could do more of those kinds of programs. More film series.
They don't have to be here. I think a lot of museums feel that they have to have everything under their roof. I don't feel this way; a lot of things can happen on the streets, in local schools, in homes, churches. Why not reactivate these institutions that are suffering from lack of attendance and people? In that sense, we don't see ourselves spreading out and getting trouble from our community about bridging out into the park, I don't see that happening. You know, it's perfectly all right—it's not exactly what we want to have always—to be in two loft floors. We'd like to have a permanent home where our rent would be going for a building that would be the permanent Studio Museum in Harlem. That's one institutionalized thing that we do want. We're moving in that direction. In terms of a complexity of the likes of an established museum, we try to avoid that. We suffer, it's sad to say, more crucial problems in other ways that hamper or deter us from Decanting more like established museums. We have definite problems of funding.
LYNN KATZMAN: Do you do any kinds of dancing for the funds?
BILL BURGESS: Well, it's a very big problem. Some very simple things is that people tell us, "We've been giving money for X number of years to this specific institution and that's the extent of our cultural gift." So we find ourselves going where the other places have been before and getting a lot and then didn't produce. That's the problem. We have to service twice as many kids or get twice less money to show that we merit the grant.
LYNN KATZMAN: Do you think this minimal support has to do with institutional racism?
BILL BURGESS: Yes, I know it works. It's funny. In the cultural area, I don't say "cultural racism"; I talk more about "cultural imperialism." That's the way it works here. There's a racism in that: a kind of imperial or "mightier than thou" of the established museums, that they know it all, that "there's no need for a dialogue; you do your thing, we'll do ours."
LYNN KATZMAN: Also there's the fact that the community defines itself through its art, and that perhaps other communities aren't that interested.
BILL BURGESS: We found, with the "Studio in the Streets" program, where the artists were doing paintings in their community, that the people were really turned on to that—just the idea of it. They were turned on to going to see our things in the community; they were outside of the museum's space, its walls. The thing about major institutions, that I know for a fact after being in the most major one in the Western hemisphere, is that there is a racism obvious. For one thing, there was very little Afro American art. I was so surprised, so startled at that. Once you start fighting in a big, established museum, there's no end to the battle. What you're asking for—although you don't have the power to do it—is a complete restructuring. You want to start at the top, and you can't; you have to start where they put you. That's difficult. The main thing is that they have to include more minorities. Basically, with these people going into the internal museum, they can perhaps affect some change from the inside.
LYNN KATZMAN: Did you work with Harry Parker?
BILL BURGESS: Yes. I was with Harry Parker; I was assistant in high school programs. I also was a curatorial assistant fellow—on a fellowship I had with the Department of Twentieth Century art under Henry Geidzahler. I remember the Art Workers' Coalition pounding at the door screaming, "Why isn't there any twentieth century art there on display?" So I really know the kinds of problems those places have.
When I was at the Metropolitan I was the first person to go beyond being a guard or a secretary. They had a couple of Black secretaries there. Can you imagine a major institution in New York City, in the United States, in 1972 with less than thirty more years in this century, with no Black people hired there. And the way in which minority people are brought into these institutions really has to be questioned seriously. And the way that they are used—showpiecing—and not being given any power or authority to make any kind of policy, regardless of education. Once you're there, you're put under the seniority system—or whatever system they've designed to put you under—so as a result, you're placed, categorized. Either you are going to stay there and take it, or you'll leave. I left.
LYNN KATZMAN: How do you see Studio Museum assured that some of that decision-making is not just left up to the Harry Parkers?
BILL BURGESS: We have to be aware of everything that goes on that is visible—art dealings, art education deals, etc. Hopefully we will be tapped to be on various committees and councils of museums, education, art, etc., and eventually we'll get to the point where we can take a greater part in steering them into programs that really are representative of communities from the staff all the way down to the program and location. It should be lobbying—major lobbying at the Congressional level, some "police work." If all the groups who came to this country reached down and found what is good about them and their cultural heritage, the potential is just incredible. And to continually stick our faces in the mud and tell us that we don't have a culture and that nothing's happening here that's worthy or worthwhile is really detrimental. Especially for a country that is so advanced in so many other areas.
LYNN KATZMAN: In terms of your own personal philosophy, how do you see the Studio Museum?
BILL BURGESS: It's definitely a Third World struggle. I think it's concerned with exposing not only the Harlem community to metropolitan New York but to the entire country—the role, the importance and the significance of the Afro American artist, the Black artist—that he has contributed something, that it means something that there is that prefix in front of that American, and that there is a great importance in the fact of how he's been created, of how he's been historically excluded from major museums, from collections, galleries, patrons, etc., so that his art can be visible. So the Museum is about trying to correct that as best it can. The Museum has had to function, in some ways unfortunately, as a national museum of Black art. There aren't any. There's a metropolitan equivalent in at least every major U.S. urban city of size, but there isn't in terms of Black culture. So demands come from Black studies programs in colleges, various interest groups and centers around the U. S. asking for information and exhibitions. And we try to respond to those needs. In a real sense, we need more money, more staff, more equipment, more materials to do this. Everybody hollers for these things. But looking around, you see how certain things can immediately come in and make things much less a day-to-day thing. It would be some kind of lubrication where we could experiment.
LYNN KATZMAN: What future trends to you see for the Studio Museum?
BILL BURGESS: I can only speak in terms of education. The Museum, as long as it continues to live, is seeing itself more and more as an educational unit. The entire operation from exhibition to workshops is an educational thing. And sure, in that whole process there are some things that are very precious, that mean a lot, that are valuable, etc., but that there are things completely opposite to that still here in this place. This is the thing; even though we've defined ourselves for this community, it's very important for people outside this community to know that we exist. So people can come in and give services and help to the museum that definitely are needed. Some very vital services are needed. For instance, some corporate people take an interest in the Studio Museum, or architects, businessmen, electricians, plumbers, etc. Kicking in a little bit all helps. So I wouldn't say that next year our major thrust will be to get corporate support. No. It is broad-based, and as many people as want to come, pitch in and help out. And hopefully, we'll do more about activating the established political and economic sectors to take a responsible view of the Museum, but also other members of the community too. There are various elements of the community who are not only poor—central Harlem is very, very poor—but there are Black Americans and other Americans who are not poor and don't fall in that category. But at least we try to pull those kinds of people into the museum and get support. Get whatever we can get.
LYNN KATZMAN: What else do you see in the near future for you?
BILL BURGESS: At the beginning of next year I'll be taking a job with the Learning Cooperative—of the Board of Ed—which is a decentralized energy cell in the Board of Ed structure. This group tried to see that the various decentralized school programs do get going in the various school districts. I'll still be connected with the Studio Museum. I feel this association is a very important one so that various funding sources can be located for the Museum via the kinds of channels that the Board of Ed has available. And eventually we can expand the Educational Department of the Museum to have little, small units within the schools around the city—sort oflike little academies can be set up where credits can be given for being at the Studio Museum, or Studio Museum personnel can go to various schools and do their particular idling there in the school. I want to get the Board of Education more committed to seeing to it that the kids that they're responsible for have more of a creative, artistic, cultural input into their development and to their curricula in the schools. Eventually with that kind of position, I am going to see to it that Studio Museum and other museums come out and do more. I think Studio Museum is really quite in the forefront of this right now at the beginning, but I think more people are going to rise, or should rise, to the occasion. And with this positioning of myself, I will continue to see that the Studio Museum remains in the forefront. I am very dedicated to the concept and that it lives, that it goes on regardless of any changes that could take place here. I'd like to see money being less and less of a problem, and that we can do more programming and more events, more things going on—in and outside of the Museum.
END OF INTERVIEW.
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Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with William H. (Bill) Burgess, 1973 April. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.