“Variability of Similar Forms”,Nancy Graves on view in the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Art. – This Berkshire native’s career was cut short but her output during her lifetime made her one of the most important sculptors of her generation. During this year of the woman when museums and galleries are digging into the untold history of female artists and offering prime spots in their schedules in an effort to diversify their programs, a survey of her work would be a natural for a regional museum to take on.
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:
BOSTON — While Massachusetts cultural institutions are for the most part thriving, the struggles of outliers like the Berkshire Museum have initiated conversations about the right approach to preserving fixtures of the arts economy.
The fiscal chasm between different regional institutions — like the Pittsfield facility and the Fitchburg Art Museum — and an internationally renowned brand, like the Museum of Fine Arts, is vast and well-known. And it’s not likely to get better soon.
I’ve been clear for some months now that I consider the Berkshire Museum’s current deaccessioning plan to be a very, very bad idea. But is it illegal?
The opponents of the sale would certainly love it to be, and now they have their wish: a lawsuit has been filed (the whole thing is here, if you want to read it for yourself), and it’s as strong as anybody could have hoped.
The Berkshires, in western Massachusetts, are one of those tourist destinations where you feel the need to set your watch back fifty years or so. The region is conservative, with a small “c,” sprinkled with small farms, rolling hills, clapboard houses. It is, quite literally, Norman Rockwell country—for the last quarter century of his life, Rockwell lived in Berkshire County.
In recent weeks, however, the oldest museum in Pittsfield, the Berkshires’ largest town, has divided the local community, prompted an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general, and placed this bucolic county at the center of a firestorm.
Christopher Knight, LA Times Art Critic August 23, 2017
Maybe it’s the record-breaking summer temperatures, exacerbated by global warming, but some art museum folks in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts seem to be suffering from heatstroke. Plainly they’ve lost their minds.
In late July, the Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield’s local newspaper, reported that the Berkshire Museum, the town’s long-struggling museum of history, science and art, finished off a two-year self-examination by deciding to sell off 40 of the most notable paintings, sculptures and drawings from a collection not known to be overstuffed with outstanding art.