Brandeis University has agreed to put in writing that it will sell none of the Rose Art Museum's prized collection of modern art, putting an end to a more than two-year public relations mess that led to a lawsuit with four supporters and an international wave of criticism.
As a result of the school's promise, the four Rose Art Museum supporters - Meryl Rose, Jonathan Lee, Lois Foster and Gerald Fineberg - have agreed to settle their lawsuit against Brandeis in which they had sought to protect the collection.
In interviews today, Rose and Lee praised the school's new president, Fred Lawrence, for his appreciation of the museum's collection, which includes works by Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Morris Louis, and Helen Frankenthaler.
Lawrence, who inherited the Rose dispute from Jehuda Reinharz, said settling it had been a priority.
"My statement to the art world is that we have affirmed the important role of the Rose at Brandeis and we not only invite their participation, we welcome it. In fact, we're counting on it," said Lawrence, referencing his desire to have the museum work on developing traveling exhibitions.
Rose, who had heavily criticized Reinharz, said she was thrilled by the agreement announced today.
"Obviously, the new president really gets this," she said. "He absolutely gets the importance of this collection and the important place the Rose has in the art world."
It was back in January of 2009 that Reinharz stunned the art world by announcing that Brandeis would close the Rose and sell off its 6,000-object collection. After heavy criticism from Brandeis supporters and others, he backed down and agreed to delay the sale. The lawsuit, though, was filed because the Rose supporters felt they needed a guarantee that the art would not be sold in a time of crisis.
(Globe Staff Photo / David L. Ryan)