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.
Critics of the Berkshire Museum’s controversial deaccessioning plan have not given up on the fight to save the institution’s artworks. Located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the museum first announced that it was going to auction off works to bolster its endowment and fund a renovation project in the summer of last year. Since then, the museum industry has been up in arms over the plan—it is considered unethical for an art institution to use the proceeds from the sale of artworks for anything other than acquisitions.
PITTSFIELD — After taking the helm at the Berkshire Museum in 2011, Van Shields surprised his new colleagues by talking about “monetizing” the Pittsfield institution’s collection.
It took six years, but talk brought results: The museum holds $47 million in proceeds from recent art sales, with another $8 million expected. It seems a “mission accomplished” moment for Shields — and on that note he’ll bow out.
Katie and Steve give an update on the first round of auction sales as part of the Berkshire Museum’s court sanctioned deaccessioning plan. They discuss the results of the sales, the museum’s current stance, and where that leaves us (hint: dissatisfied).
Trustees of the Berkshire Museum head into their first board meeting since selling artworks at a “turning point,” having raised more than $42 million to ensure their 115-year-old institution’s survival. But big decisions lie ahead.
Key decisions lie ahead, Berkshire Museum trustees say
Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle June 6, 2018
PITTSFIELD — Trustees of the Berkshire Museum head into their first board meeting since selling artworks at a “turning point,” having raised more than $42 million to ensure their 115-year-old institution’s survival.
Another day, another statement… Now in the form of an extended release from the board of trustees to the Berkshire Museum community…
In truth, it’s hard not to feel sorry for the PR team at the Berkshire Museum, or whoever has been compelled to compose the blather they have been crafting in their occasional press releases. Rather than honestly and straightforwardly addressing the raft of specific allegations of ethical malfeasance by the board and their enablers, they have resorted to tortuous paeans about community building and securing the future, apparently hoping this might divert attention from further exposing their callous disregard of donor intent and the museum’s founding mission. And yet, even these saccharine bromides fail to conceal the dissonant chords rumbling beneath the rhetorical sheen.
Lee Rosenbaum’s Cultural Commentary Blog May 31, 2018
The Berkshire Museum today posted an open letter to its community that is intended to show its “commitment to transparency, cooperation, outreach,” according to an email from its spokesperson that hit my inbox late this afternoon.
But the “open letter” was less than transparent in describing what happened to the priciest of the museum’s deaccessions:
Electronic news from the Berkshire Museum June 2018
Our most important goal has always been to secure the future of the Berkshire Museum. We want to protect what we consider the museum’s most important asset: our open doors. Reaching that goal has proven more difficult than we could have ever imagined, but it is within reach, allowing the museum to remain the ‘window on the world’ founder Zenas Crane sought to provide this community.
Shuffleton’s Barbershop by Norman Rockwell is on its way back to the Berkshires, to the Norman Rockwell Museum, where it will be on public display. We pulled the painting from auction and agreed to accept a significantly lower price through a private sale that keeps this important work in the public eye. Twelve other works were sold, including two acquired by nonprofits where they will be on public display.
SAVE THE ART (STA) A grassroots citizens group established in 2017 with the intent of stopping the sale of the Berkshire Museum’s treasured art collection in order to find an alternate solution to its continued financial shortfall.
The mission of Save the Art is to advocate for and protect the Public Trust — the art and objects belonging to all of us that document humankind’s creative and social history through time.
We thank the Berkshire Eagle for their extensive investigative coverage, the journalists, op-ed writers and our community for their hundreds of letters of concern and applaud Larry Parnass / Investigations Editor for his 2018 Outstanding Journalism award. See The Berkshire Eagle page located in Press menu.