Save the Art – Save the Museum Continues to Seek Transparency from the Berkshire Museum and Attorney General
PITTSFIELD, Mass. (March 28, 2018) – Save the Art – Save the Museum has helped to achieve a major goal of saving the Berkshire Museum’s 40 most valuable artworks from immediate auction. We re-dedicate ourselves now that the issue is before the courts, and will continue our efforts to SAVE THE ART and SAVE THE MUSEUM for ours and future generations..
In Boston on Tuesday, as lawyers for both sides stated their cases before Judge David Lowy of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Berkshire Museum reiterated its requirement for $55M, but again offered no documentation or proof to justify this vast sum. The intent of Zenas Crane, Norman Rockwell, and others who donated these treasures to the Berkshire Museum could not be clearer; they wanted them to be forever available for the pleasure, inspiration and education of the people of Pittsfield and Berkshire County. To sell them is to sell our cultural heritage.
Save the Art – Save the Museum believes the Berkshire community has a right to a candid reckoning of why we and all future generations must be denied these cherished and irreplaceable artworks. We continue to invite the Museum trustees to engage in dialogue with the community about alternatives to this drastic action.
The public deserves full transparency from the Berkshire Museum and the Massachusetts Attorney General. We call on the Supreme Judicial Court to reject the agreement and to order that the Attorney General conclude the investigation with a complete, published report.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES in packed courtroom – John Adams Courthouse, Berkshire Museum deaccession case oral arguments before SJC Justice Judge Lowy, March 20, 2018 – Boston, MA. © 2018 Photo by Catherine Ryan
“Those, like me, who were caught off-guard by the astonishing deal (now awaiting court validation) cut last month by the Berkshire Museum and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey feel justifiably blindsided by the AG’s about-face. With scant explanation, she pivoted from a seemingly adversarial stance towards the museum’s deaccessions of the cream of its collection to acceptance of the shameful sell-offs, notwithstanding the fact that they would run afoul of professional standards and would violate what the AG had deemed to be restrictions prohibiting sales of about half of the 40 deaccessioned works.” – Lee Rosenbaum, CultureGrrl
LARRY PARNASS, investigations editor for the Berkshire Eagle – Photo by Catherine Ryan © 2018
“In a 20-minute interview March 14, Healey responded both to questions about her handling of the museum’s proposed art sales and questions about whether her past ties to WilmerHale constitute at least an appearance of a conflict of interest. She rejected questions that her office was in any way in conflict. “With respect to any conflict of interest, we followed the rules. We didn’t have a conflict here and the results speak for themselves,” Healey said.” – Larry Parnass, Berkshire Eagle
Save the Art – Save the Museum (STA) is a citizens’ group that started as a grassroots effort on social media shortly after the Museum announced plans for its sale in July 2017. Members meet regularly to organize opposition to the deaccession, educate the public about viable alternatives, and raise funds to support legal efforts. STA acts on behalf of more than 1,500 people who have joined its Facebook group dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the Berkshire Museum imperiled by this sale, and thousands of other local residents who also object, many of whom have flooded the local newspaper with letters urging the Museum to change course and bring back the art.
Massachusetts boasts natural and cultural resources across the state. “Don’t miss an exhibit that’s closer than you think” is a Google map I pulled together because clients and friends asked for recommendations about what to see when they’re visiting Massachusetts. Berkshire Museum deserved to be on it.
The Berkshire Museum collection is a compelling draw for exhibiting artists and invited guest speakers. When Gloucester based fine artist, filmmaker, and photographer, Kim Smith, exhibited at the Berkshire Museum in 2014, I customized a mini version with relative driving distances. There was no mention of a Berkshire Museum pending fire sale. Smith’s work epitomizes art and nature. Salem State is honoring Kim Smith with the “Friend of the Earth” Award at Salem State Earth Day 2018 week. She is also the Keynote Speaker. Here’s one of her recent stellar wildlife photo journalism series.