Art Lovers (who love Tax Breaks) find a home at the Jordan Schnitzer museum

The Julian Schnitzer museum of Art – located at the University of Oregon – is one of the most distinctive architectural structures in Oregon & a small hidden jewel – listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Eugene, Oregon


First opened in 1933 & designed by Ellis F. Lawrence, UO dean of the School of Architecture & Allied Arts (1914-1946), the museum was built to house the Murray Warner Collection of Oriental Art—more than 3,000 objects given to the University by Gertrude Bass Warner in 1921 as a memorial to her late husband.

With its elegant exterior brickwork, decorative moldings and iron grillwork, as well as the peaceful Prince Lucien Campbell Memorial Courtyard, the original museum building is one of the most distinctive architectural structures in Oregon.


This unusual and stellar opportunity was presented in a recent New York Times article – purchasers of major art works ship them to a temporary home in a tax-free state to avoid paying “first-use” taxes in their home state.

As we were planning to spend the summer in Oregon, I added this piece of info & place to our potential travel schedule.

In a recent example, a California collector was eligible to save at least $390,000 by employing the tactic. The collector bought a painting, “Ribs Ribs,” by Jean-Michel Basquiat at auction in New York last year for $5.2 million. Since the painting was being shipped out of state, the new owner was not liable for the New York sales tax. But the buyer would still have owed “use” taxes in California (which range from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of a sale price) had the work been sent directly there. Instead, the Basquiat went to the Schnitzer, a detour that meant that the collector was eligible for the first-use exemption.




Recently, the museum had Van Gogh’s “Women at the Mantle” on display


Recent Van Gogh at Schnitzer

We saw a Basquiat during our visit – freshly hung in the museum – so fresh that the picture was not yet labeled by the museum.  A very helpful museum staff member pointed out certain works of art & shared the newly- arrived Basquiat.  She was a graduate student majoring in Art History – what a perfect job!


This small museum housed at the University of Oregon in Eugene – quiet and relatively unknown.  So unknown that when we tried to find the building via Jeep, a member of parking enforcement, while trying to be helpful, had not heard of the museum – three blocks away.   The museum has eight (that’s right, eight) parking spots on site for visitors.  We had no problem parking and the nice security staff let us enter through the back door due to the rain.

Federal Art Project (FAP) collection

The Federal Art Project (FAP) was the visual arts arm of the Great Depression-era New Deal Works Progress Administration Federal One program in the United States. It operated from August 29, 1935, until June 30, 1943. Reputed to have created more than 200,000 separate works, FAP artists created posters, murals and paintings. Some works still stand among the most-significant pieces of public art in the country.

Part of the Works Progress Administration collection

 Some of the works on loan include:


WEB MasterworksOnLoan-Aug2013-07
Joan Miro
Chuck Close “John”

The Museum’s permanent collection include works from Japan & lovely restored Stained Glass as well as Contemporary Art



Restored Stained Glass

Part of the Museum’s collection is the Pierre Daura exhibit – Mr. Daura painted in Spain & Virginia and cites Pisarro as one of his inspirations.

You can see the connection in his works.


At the age of forty-one, Daura joined the Republican militia to fight against General Franco’s forces.

Because he refused to return to Spain after the war, his Spanish citizenship was revoked by the Franco government, which emerged victorious.

Daura moved to Rockbridge Baths, Virginia and lived at the baths after they came to Virginia in July 1939 until early 1942, when they moved as caretakers to “Tuckaway”, an historic property in Rockbridge County near Lexington.  In the late summer of 1945 they moved to Lynchburg, Virginia, where Daura was chairman of the art department at Lynchburg College for the 1945–46 academic year. He taught studio art at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College from 1946 to 1953, then returned to painting and sculpture full-time.

Part of the Pierre Daura permanent collection

 The Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon is another small museum which benefits from the tax loophole, as does the Portland Museum of Art which recently had the “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” – one of the most expensive art works ever sold at auction – $142.4M at Christie’s on November 2013.

Francis Bacon at Portland Museum of Art
Francis Bacon recently at the Portland Museum of Art

 The Schnitzer is a member of the Northern America Reciprocal Museum Family – which got us free admission.

The Schnitzer is definitely worth a stop if you are in the area – an opportunity to view some great works of art before they are – potentially – placed in someone’s home.

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