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The Rose, it never stops

Posted by Geoff Edgers  January 28, 2009 11:05 PM

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The Rose Art Museum story just keeps running and running.

First, I spoke with Director Michael Rush a few minutes ago. I told him about the latest development, that the university might not sell any art at all. Provided the economy turns around and the stock market rebounds and the...

Here's what he had to say:

"Even if by some miracle the Rose Art Museum is kept open, who in the future is going to donate works of art, to donate any money, is going to believe in the potential of the Rose. Even if we prevail and this precious museum remains open, who in the future is going to give their money and their beloved art to an institution that could always be on the brink of annihilation? Who would do that. Even if we prevail, this would be a pyrrhic victory."

And Harry Philbrick, director of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, e-mailed me a letter he sent to Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz on behalf of a group of museum directors and curators who are angry about the university's decision.

A couple graphs:

Education is a part of the mission of all museums, particularly university art museums. To close The Rose Art Museum is to send the clear message that you do not value it as a part of the academic and cultural life of campus, not to mention the greater Boston community. The Rose itself was not in financial dire straits, so it is unconscionable that the University would identify it as an expendable resource given the limited stake Brandeis maintained in its operation and given its demonstrated ability to stand on its own at a time of financial instability.

Collections of art are maintained by museums in the public trust, and you are betraying that trust. Collections are not convertible assets like stock—they are an iconic legacy of our culture and of Brandeis’s supporters. Your decision to close The Rose and sell its collection is a shocking and shortsighted solution to Brandeis’s $10 million deficit that threatens to destabilize the good faith embedded in philanthropy. You have not only tarnished your reputation, but you have made a decision that will threaten the standing of cultural organizations throughout the United States.

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About Exhibitionist Geoff Edgers covers arts news for The Boston Globe..
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