Press Release – Save the Art
November 10, 2017
As the date rapidly approaches for the controversial sale of art from the Berkshire Museum, the grassroots citizens’ group Save the Art – Save the Museum will hold an emergency “eleventh-hour” rally to oppose the auction of 40 artworks, including two iconic Norman Rockwell paintings. The rally will be held in front of the Berkshire Museum on Saturday, Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On the same day, Save the Art is also staging a protest gathering at Sotheby’s, York Ave. at 72nd St., in New York City, also from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. New York organizers and meet others who oppose the sale.
Save the Art was deeply disappointed by Tuesday’s ruling by Judge John Agostini in Berkshire Superior Court allowing the auction to proceed on Monday, Nov. 13. Save the Art, along with plaintiffs in the case, are hopeful that the decision will be appealed and that Attorney General Maura Healey will prevail with an injunction to pause the sale.
The world is watching as the Berkshire Museum controversy continues to unfold. National and international media outlets have reported on Save the Art’s efforts to convince the museum’s trustees to reverse their decision to deaccession the artwork.
“The judge’s opinion says the sale can go forward, but that doesn’t make it right to sell off the museum’s collection,” “We want everyone who is upset by this sale to join us on Saturday to demonstrate just how loud and large our voice is.”
“Artists and museum experts across the country have condemned selling the artworks as both unethical and shortsighted,” “Selling off the heart of the Berkshire Museum’s collection will irreparably damage Berkshire County’s artistic and cultural heritage. The implications go far beyond one small community in western Massachusetts; the loss of these artworks will set a destructive precedent for art collections throughout the U.S.”
“The trustees and others who allow these treasures to leave the county will be remembered in the future for having robbed generations of Berkshire children of their cultural legacy,” “While there is still time, we call on the Museum leadership to change this disgraceful and divisive course and seek other ways to implement its ‘New Vision’.”Carol Diehl, spokesperson for Save the Art
Diehl praised the groundswell of support Save the Art’s efforts have received since its October 28 rally, which drew more than 100 people. “The enthusiasm generated by our group’s efforts have demonstrated how important the art is to the people of Berkshire County,” she said. “It has been encouraging to see such a smart and diverse group come forward to support stopping the sale. We hope the museum leadership will listen to the will of the people.”
Save the Art
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.
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 page, 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 then 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.