Group Opposes Library Selling Valuable Art

A group of citizens is urging the Salina Public Library to reconsider selling from its collection several valuable Birger Sandzen paintings at auction.

Earlier this summer, over concerns including the cost of insurance and maintenance of the valuable artwork, the library board of directors decided to sell two, large Sandzen oil paintings and several prints. They are scheduled to be sold at auction this coming Saturday.

You can view the Sandzen oil paintings on the auction house website.

For more than 100 years major Sandzen oil paintings have been in the possession of the Salina Public Library. The work titled “Smoky River“, listed at a starting bid of $30,000 piece has belonged to the Library since 1921. The work titled “Golden Aspens“, listed at a starting bid of $40,000, has belonged to the library since 1929.

The group says they came upon this information “late in the game” so the only thing they can think of to do is to petition the Library Board to pull the paintings and prints from auction – before Saturday – and take some time to consider other options.

They are putting together a petition via social media.

Birger Sandzen taught in Lindsborg from 1894 until he died in 1954. He created more than 3,000 paintings, 328 prints, and countless watercolors and drawings that hang in buildings across Kansas and the world.

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Here is the petition:

To Members of the Salina Public Library Board,

We are most concerned and disagree with the decision the Board made to send to auction two Birger Sandzen oil paintings – Golden Aspens and Smoky River – and several Sandzen prints. These works were not only gifted to the Salina Public Library for appropriate care and keeping but to all citizens of Salina and the region to enjoy. Birger Sandzen, principal art professor at Bethany College for 47 years, was a prolific painter and printmaker exhibited extensively throughout the US and Sweden. His works are found in many major art museums and significant private collections and continue to appreciate in value. For more than 100 years, these exceptional pieces have distinguished the Salina Public Library, making visits by patrons old and young more enjoyable, informative, and memorable.
We strongly request that you withdraw the art works from auction in order to have time to more fully explore a plan that lessens the financial burden on the Library and keeps the Sandzens in Salina where they belong