Monday, February 02, 2009

Rose Art Museum

I'm a graduate of Brandeis University. I was surprised last week to get email from President Jehuda Reinharz informing me - and everybody other alum on the university mailing list - that the Board of Trustees had decided to close the Rose Art Museum and sell off its thousands of 20th century artworks. A couple of days later, I received email from the current president of the Alumni Association defending the decision. I was assured that the Board of Trustees had been pained to make this decision, and that the academic senate had previously voted to support the Board in whatever decisions it made. Yeah, yeah. The phrase "self-serving" did cross my mind as I read both email messages.

There's been outrage throughout the art world. The Boston Globe had an article up almost immediately and has had a couple more since (use the search box at boston.com to find them all). The Times had a news story last week, and also an editorial in today's paper. ArtsJournal has a Q&A with Michael Rush, the Rose's director.

Times art critic Roberta Smith closes her article, published yesterday, with this zinger:
The message out of Brandeis University last week — to its own students and to the world — was that when the going gets tough, none of this matters. Art is dispensable.
You bet. I've got an outraged letter of my own going to Brandeis in tomorrow's mail.


Anonymous said...

Tell them, as an alumna, that you will make no further financial contributions to the university if they go through with this. (Whether you ever have before or not.)

Money is talking, to persuade them this is a decent act. So talk in the language of money. These people see their old grads as cash cows, so moo.

Lisa Hirsch said...

My letter says, among other things, that they should be calling on all members of the Brandeis community for ideas and money. I think that is more powerful than a threat.