The People ex rel. William J. Scott, Attorney General v. George F. Harding Museum

374 N.E.2d 756 (1978)

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The People ex rel. William J. Scott, Attorney General v. George F. Harding Museum

Illinois Appellate Court
374 N.E.2d 756 (1978)

Facts

Under the Illinois Charitable Trust Act (the act), the Illinois attorney general (plaintiff) has standing to enforce the terms of a charitable trust. In 1930, George F. Harding incorporated the George F. Harding Museum (museum) (defendant). The articles of incorporation set forth the purpose of the museum, which was educational. Specifically, the museum was for the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge of arts and sciences for the improvement of the mind by operating a museum for the exhibition of art, artifacts, antiques, and other objects. After Harding’s death in 1939, directors of the museum (defendants) oversaw the museum’s operation. The museum was open to the public until 1965, when the collection was moved. The attorney general brought an action under the act against the museum and its directors, alleging that they had violated their duties under the act because the museum was a charitable trust, so its directors were trustees under the act and obligated to comply. The directors filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that they were not trustees under the act and that the act was unconstitutional because it treated schools differently from other charitable trusts. The trial court granted the motion. The trial court found that the directors were not trustees under the act because the museum held property for an educational, not a charitable, purpose but that the act was constitutional. Both sides appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Downing, J.)

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