The Denver Art Museum has removed an Asian Art Acquisition Fund named in honor of Emma Bunker from its website following an investigation by the Denver Post into the longtime museum consultant and board member.
The art museum last year launched the “Emma Cadwalader Bunker Asian Art Acquisition Fund” in honor of the Colorado woman who spent decades helping the museum grow its collections.
But The Post’s investigation, published online Thursday, found that Bunker used her scholarship and writings to help an accused art smuggler, Douglas Latchford, sell and lend artwork looted from Cambodia’s ancient temples. . Over the past decade, Bunker — who died last year — was referenced or named in five civil and criminal cases involving the sale of illegal antiquities — though she was never charged or charged herself.
Citizens could still donate to the fund this week. But by Friday morning, the link to the Bunker Fund’s donation page was showing visitors a “Page not found” message.
“The fund was set up at the request of friends of Emma Bunker who wanted to honor her on her death,” the museum says in an e-mail on Friday afternoon in response to a question from De Post. “The fund is no longer active.”
Andy Sinclair, a museum spokesperson, said in a follow-up email Friday night, about four hours after this story was published, that the museum closed the fund on Sept. website was removed on June 30. A “back page” featuring a payment feature for the fund “was recently removed to indicate that the fund is no longer active,” she said.
Denver Art Museum officials declined multiple interview requests during The Post’s coverage of the series. Museum officials answered written questions from the newspaper last month, including specific questions about the fund named in Bunker’s honor, but did not mention that the fund had closed.
But it is far from clear that the @DenverArtMuseum learns lessons and reforms its practices: Incredibly, it is now seeking donations to its “Emma Bunker Asian Art Acquisition Fund” pic.twitter.com/iY9AIyxOcU
— Angela S Chiu (@ChiuAngelaS) October 17, 2021
Bunker and her husband donated more than 200 pieces to the museum’s collection, many of which are still on display in its countless galleries.
The museum told The Post last month that its acquisition fund raised $25,000 to buy new pieces, and officials last year dubbed the Southeast Asian art wing the “Bunker Gallery” to celebrate its decades-long contributions.