On this day in 1958: Capping an 18-year legal struggle, the Ackland Art Museum is dedicated at the University of North Carolina. As specified in his bequest, the museum’s benefactor, William Hayes Ackland, is interred within the building with a recumbent statue on his marble sarcophagus.
When he died in 1940, Ackland, a Washington lawyer, left $1,395,000 to Duke University for an art museum. The school’s trustees declined — reportedly out of the belief that the sarcophagi and recumbent statues of three Dukes in the Duke Memorial Chapel were ample. UNC and Rollins College, Ackland’s second and third choices in an earlier will, were left to wage a long court struggle over the bequest. UNC — whose lawyers were not above arguing that that Duke and UNC were “alike as two peas in a pod” — finally won out.