Some of you may remember when we brought a traveling exhibit from the
State Sues Over Assets Of
One of John Lennon's guitars was donated to the
that Lennon composed the song "Love" on this guitar.
By Cynthia Dizikes,
February 10, 2011
For nearly three decades,
the city as a lesser-known cultural center with big-name
draws, including the writings of the Rev. Martin Luther
King Jr., the lyrics of Joan Baez and a John Lennon
guitar donated by the star's widow, Yoko Ono.
The museum was founded in 1981 to promote peace through
art. At one time it boasted a collection of nearly
10,000 pieces, but it hit hard times a few years ago and
ultimately closed its doors.
Now state authorities, concerned the museum's pro-peace
relics may have sustained water and mold damage after
being stashed away in storage facilities, have filed an
unusual lawsuit to try to protect the property from
appoint an individual to inventory the museum's
collection - which once contained thousands of pieces of
art, photographs, anti-war quilts, sculptures and
manuscripts - and then distribute them to other
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in
contended that the museum's former administrator now has
limited control over the assets, which are being stored
at the museum's last location at the
house as well as two other storage facilities.
"The goal is to ensure that the assets can remain in the
charitable sector," said Maura Possley, a spokeswoman
for Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
After seeing an increase in interest following the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the museum started running
into financial difficulties. In 2004, Melissa McGuire,
its former administrator, told the Tribune that she was
putting her paycheck back into the museum, buying paint,
feeding volunteers and using her frequent flier miles to
bring in guest speakers.
McGuire, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit,
could not be reached Thursday for comment.
"It breaks my heart that it is not alive and well," said
Jackie Rivet-River, a former museum board member. "It
was a proud and wonderful piece of
that should have been maintained and funded and
The Chicago Park District, which has been housing part
of the collection, welcomed the lawsuit.
"They have said they would come by and pick it up, and
they still haven't and this has been three or four years
now," said Zvez Kubat, a Park District spokeswoman.
"(But) we're not just going to pitch them. . We are
hoping that somebody will come and pick them up."