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.