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Dear Des Moines Art Center

Christopher L. Jorgensen
P.O. Box 546
Ames, IA 50010

April 22, 2008

Des Moines Art Center
4700 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50312-2099

Dear Des Moines Art Center,

A while back I went to your Art Center to see “Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery” by Joseph Cornell, but was told it was “on loan.” This seems like a great program to me. I didn’t realize you did this.

I am a huge Francis Bacon fan and would like to borrow, “Study After Velasquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X.” I have a place above my bed picked out for it, though admittedly this might upset the girlfriend. She would rather we get “Automat” by Edward Hopper. I told her I would ask.

How many can I borrow at a time? If it’s only one I guess we’ll take the Hopper (have to keep the girlfriend happy!). But in this case, any chance I could buy the Bacon?

If you deliver, just send them to the above address, or contact me with a good time for us to pick them up.


Christopher L. Jorgensen





1 Originally this letter used my home address, but since the above mentioned Bacon now hangs above my bed I no longer give this out.

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Des Moines Art Center

April 23, 2008

Christopher L. Jorgensen
P.O. Box 546
Ames, IA 50010

Dear Mr. Jorgensen:

Thank you for your inquiry into the loan of the Des Moines Art Center’s work by Joseph Cornell entitled Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery. I regret that the artwork was out on loan when you visited the museum.

When you visited, Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery was at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. in a major retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work where is was seen by thousands of visitors. It is common practice for art museums to lend their works of art to other museums for exhibition projects. This is how the museum field adds to the scholarship of works of art and adds to the cultural record in general. For example, our painting Automat is currently at the Art Institute of Chicago in a major Hopper exhibition, after the exhibition’s stop at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Our Francis Bacon painting will soon travel to the Prado Museum in Madrid, The Tate Modern in London, and finally the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before it returns to us. Likewise, the Art Center will be borrowing 75 works of art from major museums across the country for an exhibition entitled After Many Springs opening here January 2009.

I hope this give you a better understanding of why this work waas not on view during your visit to the Art Center. Please come again.

Best regards,


Jeff Fleming









4700 GRAND AVENUE, DES MOINES, IOWA 50312-2099 TEL 515.277.4405 FAX 515.271.0357

Scan of the letter from Des Moines Art Center


Note: Address has been updated to reflect my current P.O. Box.

This was the first reply that actually almost made me feel bad, since I was sort of wasting this guy’s time. I’d like to think this person realized I was being an ass and decided to ignore the idiotic parts of my letter. Yeah, not in this lifetime will I ever be able to afford to buy a Bacon or a Hopper, and I damn well know they don’t lend pieces like this to individuals. I am told they used to have an art lending program, but my guess is they didn’t lend out their prize pieces.

I did find this letter informative, polite, and somewhat educational. I already knew the purpose of lending pieces to other museums and such, but to read where each piece was and was going was cool. It made me feel like my letter had been read, and a thoughtful reply given. This letter was worth my time to get. I want to swing down and see the Bacon again before it leaves!

This clinches it for me, I’m going to become a member. I always throw a few bucks in the kitty when I visit, but I think a membership is only $35.

By Christopher L. Jorgensen


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Christopher L. Jorgensen
PO Box 546
Ames, IA 50010

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