Board votes against placement of statue at Florence County Museum
FLORENCE, S.C. – The Florence County Museum Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday evening to recommend that the county council not place a sculpture featuring the city’s namesake and her father, the town’s founder, at the museum.
The vote came on a motion by board member Craig Boatwright, seconded by Mary Gregg, to accept the recommendation of the museum’s exhibition committee.
The sculpture of Florence Henning Harllee and her father, William Wallace Harllee, was originally planned to be placed at the Florence County Judicial Center.
Jumana Swindler, who headed the meeting of the board and the meeting of the exhibition committee July 31, said, “Last week, the exhibition committee met and we currently have a recommendation from that committee to the board. The recommendation from the executive [exhibition] committee is based on a request submitted from the county council for us to either accept or make a recommendation on behalf of accepting the Gen. William Wallace Harllee monument.”
The sculpture is called “This Place Will Be Called In Your Name, Florence” and was crafted by Alex Palkovich. It features William Wallace Harllee with his hand on Florence Harllee on a railroad track that is being built. William Wallace Harllee is credited as the founder of Florence as the railroad he was the owner of built a depot in the area. He suggested naming the city after his daughter.
The exhibition committee voted unanimously to recommend against placing the sculpture at the museum.
On July 19, the Florence County Council voted unanimously to authorize County Administrator K.G. “Rusty” Smith and his staff to consider an appropriate location for the sculpture at the Florence County Museum with the advice of the museum’s board of directors and exhibition committee. The county council is not obliged to accept the recommendation of either the board or the committee.
“So, the exhibit committee gathered together and reviewed the information as well as had a dialogue and a discussion,” Swindler continued. “The main part of that discussion was adherence to the museum’s policy and procedures in accepting exhibits. The recommendation was not to accept the monument.”
Swindler added that the vetting process for placing an exhibit at the museum did not take place.
“We were just asked to receive it,” Swindler said. “The biggest concern is that this would set a precedent that any time somebody wanted to provide information or a project or a monument or an exhibit that it would simply be turned over for receipt by the museum. So we felt like the appropriate vetting process did not take place as provided by the policies and procedures.”
The exhibition committee was also concerned about the sculpture’s size and the safety of it because of several sharp edges.
Board member John Harrell made a motion to table the issue of a recommendation but after several minutes of discussion, he withdrew it.
Later, as the board voted, Harrell raised his hand after Swindler called for “yea” votes and said, “Might as well.”
Harrell also expressed concern that that board did not have a quorum and was unable to take any action. However, as explained by Florence County Museum director Andrew Stout and Swindler, the board did have a quorum.
As described in county ordinances, the board consists of nine members, one from each of the nine county council districts. However, seats representing Districts 4 and 9 are currently vacant on the board. Jacqueline Mouzon from District 1 and Kevin Barth from District 6 did not attend the meeting. Murriel Calcutt did not attend the meeting but sent a letter and voted by proxy.
The problem of what to do with the sculpture in Florence now will return to the Florence County Council for a decision on what to do about the recommendations of the exhibition committee and the museum board.
It is not yet known if the county council will consider the item at its August meeting.