As the twentieth century nears its end, a group of people in the United States and in Europe have taken the initiative of creating a new museum: The Museum of European Art in Clarence, New York. This decision was made at a time when the confrontation between the superpowers of East and West was coming to an end, and the work for peace among peoples became the official policy of the world's leading nations. The founders of this institution say today: "A museum is born, to serve the people."
In the United States, President Bill Clinton now carries the responsibility which previously was borne by the great presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan. In Europe, Germany, reunited in peace and freedom, is acquiring greater significance under the leadership of Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The cultural nation of France is claiming an international position under President Francois Mitterand. Russia, under President Boris Yeltsin, is extending the hand of peace to its former enemies. The Czech Republic, a former East Block country, functions today as a model for similar countries in central and eastern Europe. Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain and King Juan Carlos in Spain are proving themselves preservers of tradition and culture.
In this positive political atmosphere, free citizens are asked to make a contribution to the society of today as well as the future. This the Museum of European Art in the United States does. The cultural work of this institution cannot--nor does it wish to--compete with the great museums that have operated with extensive government support for decades. Nevertheless, the Museum of European Art is a valuable addition to the cultural landscape. It teaches about contemporary artists and presents, in exhibits both within and without, the works of men and women which we, due to their style, call "European art." Another objective of our museum is to arouse the curiosity of young people in art which has its roots in the countries of Europe from which their forefathers once emigrated. Contact with art enriches our personal lives. In addition, it gives us a better understanding and a greater respect for the cultures of other nations all over the world.
It is therefore to be hoped that now and in the future the museum will acquire a great popularity in the form of financial support from citizens bound up in tradition, many visits from both young and old to see the exhibits, and a good working relationship with the artists. Then we will one day look back on today and be able to say: "A museum was born, and it has served the understanding of the people."