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*UPDATED: Brandeis University to close art museum, sell collection

January 26, 2009 |  6:33 pm

Rose Art Museum at Brandeis Univ. On its website, Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum styles itself as "an outstanding collection of modern and contemporary art widely recognized as the finest of such collections in New England." Now you can color it gone -- the Boston Globe is reporting that Brandeis, a highly rated private school in Waltham, Mass., is going to close the museum this summer and sell off its collection of more than 6,000 art works.

Works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg are part of the cache that will come on the market as Brandeis strains to plug what's reported to be a budget deficit as high as $10 million.

President Jehuda Reinharz told the Globe: "This is not a happy day.... The Rose is a jewel. But for the most part it's a hidden jewel. It does not have great foot traffic and most of the great works we have, we are just not able to exhibit. We felt that... given the recession and the financial crisis, we had no choice."

A major Brandeis donor, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation, was hit hard by investing with financier Bernard Madoff, the alleged Ponzi-schemer. It had given more than $3 million to Brandeis in 2007, according to media reports.

*UPDATE: The Association of Art Museum Directors responded Tuesday morning to Brandeis decision:

"AAMD is shocked and dismayed to learn of Brandeis University's plans to close the Rose Art Museum and sell its collection. This is a sad day for the students of Brandeis, the University, and its community. The Rose Art Museum plays a vital role in bringing modern and contemporary art to the public and increasing understanding of the art of our time.  AAMD's mid-winter meeting begins tomorrow and its members will discuss the ramifications of Brandeis' decision and any actions the Association may take in response to these regrettable plans."

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Rose Art Museum by redgoldfly


 
Comments () | Archives (3)

The full collection, according to the director, is worth $300m at a minimum. On the other hand, the museum draws only 13,000 visitors a year, is almost unknown outside of the art world, and lacks the space to exhibit its treasures. Plans to build a huge new wing evaporated a few months ago, when the donor withdrew.

So the university was left to ponder this question - better to leave $300m of artwork in a basement while laying off 10% of the faculty, increasing enrollment by 12%, and cutting entire programs and departments? Or to close the museum, sell the artwork, and use the proceeds to increase the size of its endowment by more than 50% and plugging the short-term hole in its finances?

Not really a tough decision. With a little bit of luck, some of these major works will end up at a museum that actually attracts visitors and has the space to display them. Even if that's only half of the works, it'd be infinitely more than are presently viewed by any substantial audience.

For those of you who are upset by the decision to close the Rose Art Museum, action is being taken. There is an alumni petition circulating online, which you may sign by going to this website:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/in-opposition-to-the-closing-of-the-rose-art-museum

For anyone else who is interested in learning more about the Rose Art Museum and how you can help the cause to keep the gallery open, please visit this website:

http://savetheroseart.org/

This is clearly an uneasy time at Brandeis, but the board of trustees' swift and conclusive decision should not be carried out without further inquiry. The lack of transparency in executing this decision is reprehensible, and the point at which one of the biggest attractions at an institution that prides itself on its radical nature in the realm of liberal arts institutions induces more fear and consternation about the school's future than anything else. I hope the Brandeis community's voice manages to get heard, no matter what the opinions may be.

what is Jehuda's salary, are they paying his house, does he fly business/first class, what is Epteins's salary, what is Tsipis' salary, what are ALL the numerous vice presidents, deans, provosts and other nonsense. What are their salaries, are they all cutting back their salaries/pensions/benie?!?!!?/---this is mis and malfeasence of office. An independent investigation is warranted into such gross mis-management.


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