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Q and A with Patricia Rodgers

by Jennifer Garner

October 5,2006

How did you become involved with the Mint Museum?

The Mint Museum of Art has always been a very important part of our community. Rodgers Builders was asked to become involved with the construction of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design in 1998. My husband has collected glass for many years, so we were very interested in doing what we could to help build such a new and exciting museum for the region. I have always believed in the arts and the power to educate and connect with the community. I've been involved with the Mint Museums over the years and have been honored to work with such a fine organization that is celebrating 70 years in Charlotte. We are delighted to welcome Charlotte and our region to celebrate with the Museum, "70 Years, The Mint Museums: 1936-2006, Celebrating the Past, Envisioning the Future."

Why do you feel passionate about the arts and their role in the life of the city?

I think the arts play such an important role in a city and her history. I am not an artist myself and am always amazed at the passion and energy I find when I visit a museum. When we travel with our grandchildren, we always go to museums. Looking at a painting from the 16th century is a great way for children to learn about history. It is easy for children to see what did people look like? What did they wear and do? Art is a wonderful way to see history. Any artist is a product of his or her time and that time's geography, history, politics, literature and music. A whole slice of history is contained in one piece of art. I think it is wonderful that all CMS fifth graders visit the Mint Museum of Art and learn about the history of their city and the many cultures that have contributed to her vibrancy. Many of the other public schools in the region as well as private schools also use the Museums for curriculum-based trips.

Why would someone want to travel to Charlotte to see the Mint Museums?

I think the Mint Museums are an incredible visual experience. We have a varied collection and two wonderful venues in which to experience this art. Our pre-Columbian collection on Randolph Road is one of the finest in the world, along with the costume collection that is housed there. The Mint was fortunate to be the recipient of an amazing ceramics collection that has grown over the years. The Mint Museum of Craft + Design Museum has great support in the community and also benefits from a dedicated group of local and national collectors known as the Founders' Circle. This second museum was opened with both local and national collectors adding to the collection. I think that the varied collections of the two museums reflect our diverse community and history. Part of Charlotte's unique character is this support of the arts by both citizens and corporations; it is part of our culture. When I moved to Charlotte in 1972, I was struck by the amount of involvement that citizens had in the community. I saw what a difference people were making and I wanted to do the same to build a healthy, beautiful city for my family and future generations.

What are some milestones in the Mint's 70-year history?

The history of the Mint Museums is really pretty interesting. Of course we know that the building was really the first branch of the United States Mint, and that they produced gold coins there from 1836 until the start of the Civil War. After this, the building had many different uses over the years before falling into disrepair. During the Depression, concerned citizens worked to save the historic building and it was moved to its present Randolph Road site. When it opened in 1936, it was North Carolina's first art museum. Through the generosity of many local citizens, the collection has grown, and two wings have been added, in 1967 and 1985 to house the growing collection. Through the generosity and support of Bank of America, the Mint Museum of Craft + Design was founded in 1999.

Why is the relocation of the Mint worth it? Are citizens paying too much for the new arts package uptown?

No, I think this arts districts along Tryon Street is going to be a great thing for Charlotte; an economic engine is being developed for the future. Wachovia's Arts Complex is good for the arts and education communities and brings a new richness and depth to the center city. I think that the varied organizations that will be along Tyron Street – The Afro American Cultural Center, the new Bechtler Museum, the new Mint Museums, a new 1,200 seat theater, along with a renovated Discovery Place, existing Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and McColl Center for Art, all reflect the diverse interests and backgrounds of our community and region. We have a lot of people in our community to thank for their vision and their support.

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