Arts & Humanities

The curious case of an acquisition that never was

The Ackland Art Museum planned on acquiring a sculpture for the exterior of the building in 1977 — but the art never materialized.

A digital depiction of a metal sculpture outside the Ackland Art Museum.
A sketch of what Antoni H. Milkowski’s "Diamond" would have looked like outside the Ackland Art Museum. (SketchUp illustration by Nathan Marzen)

The Ackland Art Museum activated the space in front of the building in recent years by turning it into the “Terrace Gallery,” displaying spinning tops (by Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena) and stickwork sculptures (by Carolina alumnus Patrick Dougherty).

This is not the first time the Ackland Art Museum planned on using the space, though. Over 40 years ago, the then-curator John Minor Wisdom wrote in the museum’s 1977-78 Annual Report about the important decision “to purchase Antoni H. Milkowski’s ‘Diamond,’ an exceptionally handsome minimalist sculpture.”

But, there is no further mention in the Annual Reports of this major undertaking, and the sculpture does not appear in the official list of that year’s acquisitions.

Read more about what could have happened to the planned acquisition.