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Save the Art – Save the Museum Group to Hold Fundraising Social and Protest Rally This Week

Press Release – Save the Art
October 23, 2017

With the Berkshire Museum’s plans to send 40 artworks to auction next month (now facing a court challenge)Save the Art – Save the Museum will hold two public events this week to support efforts against the sale. On Thursday, Oct. 26, a Fundraising Social will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. at Wandering Star Craft Brewery in Pittsfield. On Saturday, Oct. 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the sidewalk outside the Berkshire Museum on South Street in Pittsfield, Save the Art will hold its third public rally to “pause” the sale.

Save the Art – Save the Museum is a citizens’ group dedicated to serving and preserving the integrity of the Berkshire Museum and its collections. It began as a grassroots effort on social media shortly after the Museum announced plans for the sale in July. Members now meet regularly to organize opposition to the deaccession as well as to educate the public on viable alternatives to it.

Both events this week are open to the public. The Fundraising Social at Wandering Star Craft Brewery at 11 Gifford St. will feature brewery-fresh beer, finger food, acoustic music by Daniel Broad and friends, and a silent auction. Tickets are $20 at the door. Proceeds from the event will be used to support legal action and public outreach to promote a thriving Berkshire Museum while preserving the public trust and Pittsfield’s and Berkshire Country’s cultural heritage. 

“This is a great opportunity for the community to come together in a social setting in support of stopping the Berkshire Museum’s planned sale of the crown jewels of its collection,” “The Social allows the public to meet like-minded people who have actively opposed the sale through letters to the editor, articles, rallies, and countless hours of financial, legal, art and local history research,”

Leslie Ferrin, founder of Save the Art

A group led by Norman Rockwell’s three sons and Pittsfield artist Tom Patti filed a lawsuit last week seeking a temporary injunction on the auction scheduled for November 13. In the wake of this development, Save the Art – Save the Museum has strengthened its efforts to raise funds to help underwrite legal fees and advance community education. “While current legal action will hopefully create a pause, we have a long way to go to ensure the return of our art treasures,” said Save the Art activist Sharon Gregory. “We continue to lobby city and state officials and to work to reverse plans by the Berkshire Museum which we deem to be unethical.”

The group established an online fundraising platform on Oct. 8, and has since raised nearly $15,000 from donors across the nation in support of its efforts. To learn more, click on this link.

Save the Art

The public is also invited to participate in the group’s third protest rally on Saturday, Oct. 28. The permitted rally will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield.

Save the Art began as a spontaneous protest on social media shortly after the Museum announced plans for the sale in July. It currently has more than 2,000 members on its combined Facebook pages, drawing support across the Berkshires and all over the US. Save the Art has gathered more than 1,700 signatures on petitions sent to the Massachusetts Attorney General, and has generated an outpouring of letters of concern to state officials, representatives and the press. The group turned the matter into a state and national issue, with extensive coverage ranging from the Boston Globe to The New Yorker.

Rather than sell the work

Save the Art believes that deaccession of the Rockwells and other masterpieces (including major works by Bierstadt, Church and Calder), dishonors the founders and stewards of the Berkshire Museum’s past and deprives future generations of their cultural inheritance. In pursuing the auction, the Museum betrays its longstanding role as keeper of Berkshire cultural memory. The sale violates the public trust, flouts ethical principles broadly held in the museum community, and sets a damaging precedent for museums and cultural institutions across the nation.

Rather than sending these great works into private collections, where they will never be seen in public again, we encourage the Museum to use them as a springboard to establish the Berkshire Museum as one of Massachusetts’ great regional museums of art, history and culture. As such, the Museum would provide access to the county’s art and cultural heritage within walking distance to the children of Pittsfield, attract tourism, and energize the city’s economy. 

“I felt strongly about doing this to help keep the art that was given to our community, in the community. When I asked fellow businesspeople about donations for the silent auction, it became clear how broadly based the public is in their opposition to the sale. While many of us support the museum, we do not support the decision to sell the art.”

Christopher Post, owner of Wandering Star Craft Brewery