Memphis citizens continue pressing legal claims that the new art museum on the city’s riverfront violates their rights to private property.
At the center of the controversy is the new Brooks Museum of Art, proposed by the Memphis city council. The museum was to be constructed at the promenade – a strip of land at the Memphis riverfront. However, as soon as the project was announced, it irked the city’s citizens.
Friends of Our Riverfront is the organization at the forefront of the protests, along with scores of Memphis city residents. The citizens claim descent from the original settlers from when the city was first founded. The website page of the organization reads: “When the owners of the land where Memphis now sits laid out tracts to be sold for homes and businesses, they set aside the land along the riverfront as a public common space for all to use and enjoy.”
A defunct fire station and a parking garage previously occupied the strip of land. They were removed earlier this year to make way for the new museum, whose construction broke ground in June. However, many citizens – who saw the razing of the old buildings as the “first opportunity in over 70 years” to reclaim the land, were dismayed. In August, they filed a lawsuit in the Shelby Country Chancery court against both the city as well as the museum.
However, the new project is not without its supporters. Many highlight the public sections in the museums, which would essentially allow the public space to be used for free public use. Supporters also highlight the massive tourism revenues the project could potentially attract.