STA’s local and national supporters clarified the issues for the public and the press, organized protests, and raised funds for litigation. Over the course of two years, STA played an essential role in bringing national attention to this critical issue.
The litigations in 2017-2018 decided in favor of the Berkshire Museum and resulted in the $53.25 million sale of 22 of its most valuable works of art, most removed from the Public Trust and transferred to private hands. The ruling stipulated that a nominal amount be set aside and applied to the remaining collection, but most of the proceeds were left unregulated. Sanctions by the larger community of art museums and cultural organizations limited the Museum’s ability to collaborate with other institutions and negatively impacted their eligibility for state funding.
Currently, museums across the United States, many already financially stressed, face increasing challenges as a result of the pandemic. The long-term impact of the coronavirus on the health of our museums may well put the Public Trust in ever greater danger. STA continues to advocate for solutions that preserve, protect, and strengthen public collections.