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Museum of Natural History and Art – Pittsfield, Mass (1903 Postcard)

The Berkshire Museum

 

When did the Berkshire Museum start selling art?

In the spring of 2005, Stuart Chase, executive director of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, was preparing for a $10 million renovation to the hundred-year old building. A survey of the collections was under way when Chase pulled three paintings out of the racks. “I just knew they were something more,” Chase says. “While the works seemed out of context with the rest of the collection, I was intrigued and drawn to their apparent European regionalism.”

These had never been shown and were not related to the museum’s mission.

The $7 million realized from their sale will directly support the development of the museum’s permanent art and natural science collections. The acquisition fund will enhance the Berkshire Museum’s role as one of the region’s institutions with a strong economic impact on the local economy. Spending from this sale to acquire art by living Berkshire-based artists will re-circulate through the local economy as spending in the mix of businesses that they support—and that support them. The collection serves as a draw in marketing the Berkshire Museum and the Berkshires. Seen together, this is the type of investment and spending that makes up our “creative economy.”

Chase left the museum in 2011 but the board of trustees and the museum’s lawyer, Mark Gold began a process that ultimately succeeding in the sale and devastating loss of the community’s most valued works entrusted to the museum by founder Zenas Crane and local artist, Norman Rockwell.

“The proceeds from the sale can only be used for future acquisitions or for direct care and conservation of the permanent collection.”


“I just knew they were something more,” Chase says. “While the works seemed out of context with the rest of the collection, I was intrigued and drawn to their apparent European regionalism.”
Stuart Chase
Berkshire Museum Director
2005–2011

ABOUT

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.

MISSION

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.

PRESS

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.