Nearly one-fourth of the art collection amassed by the Richmond Public Schools remains unaccounted for, but at least officials now know what's missing.
The lost art includes seven pieces by Eugene Vango, a retired Virginia State University professor, an oil pastel and print by acclaimed Virginia artist A.B. Jackson and a sculpture by Haitian artist Janvier Louisjuste.
"I just think it's a crime that this work was not valued enough to have been followed, documented in some way, that it could just vanish into thin air," former art teacher Melinda Mottley says.
The collection was started in the 1950s by Helen Rose, who was a coordinator for the school system's humanities center. After the center was demolished to make way for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, former teachers voiced concerns that the art was lost.
Former humanities center coordinator Samuel Banks realized how much art was missing during an inventory of the 112-piece collection he conducted late last year.
The School Board asked Chief Academic Officer Victoria Oakley to pinpoint the 27 lost artworks, which were recently released in a list.
Oakley says the remaining 85 pieces will remain in storage until the district develops a plan for how to distribute them in schools. As for the missing pieces, she says: "We are continuing to do our due diligence in locating pieces that may have been out on display throughout the district."
She says that means continuing to search in school buildings and continuing to unpack more boxes.