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July 14th Rally Calls on Museum to Halt Further Sales of Art, Restore Original Mission

July 11, 2018
Announcement from STA

Save the Art – Save the Museum invites the public to a July 14th rally in front of the Berkshire Museum at 39 South Street, Pittsfield, MA, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to protest further sales of art that continue to erode the museum’s founding mission.

This rally marks the first anniversary of the Berkshire Museum’s announcement of its radical plan to sell its most important art, alter its historic building, and enact a “New Vision” that will essentially transform it into a children’s science museum where art will no longer be central to its mission. This gathering will send a message to the museum’s board that it is vital to listen to the community and restore Zenas Crane’s vision for the museum as a multifaceted “window on the world” for adults and children, with its collection of art masterpieces as its crowning jewel.

The museum’s current effort to sell even more art cannot be justified after pushing through the first phase of its plan to sell up to 40 of its most important artworks. With $47 million now in the bank, the board cannot claim that it needs to further strip away the collection “to keep its doors open.” It should not sacrifice the important remaining works by great artists such as BierstadtMoran, and Calder just to reach an arbitrary $55 million goal with no specific plan.

It is vital for the board to provide information so the community can accurately assess the situation. There are many unanswered questions as to why the board originally decided that this unpopular decision to sell off its art was necessary. The Museum has now released the financial documents it was required to by law. Full transparency includes making public its contract with Sotheby’s, to determine whether its terms had any impact on the Museum’s resistance to widespread calls to take a pause in the sales.