The first sentence of a press release issued January 27, 2009 by the Brandeis University Board of Trustees reads thusly:
- Brandeis University’s Board of Trustees today voted unanimously to close the Rose Art Museum as part of a campus-wide effort to preserve the university’s educational mission in the face of the historic economic recession and financial crisis. Board members stressed that the museum decision will not alter the university’s commitment to the arts and the teaching of the arts.
- After necessary legal approvals and working with a top auction house, the university will publicly sell the art collection. Proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in the university to combat the far-reaching effects of the economic crisis, and fortify the university’s position for the future.
2. They'd better have some damned good lawyers to secure those "necessary legal approvals." If I had donated *restricted* gifts and/or endowment funds and/or most of the money towards building a wing in the Museum at any time within the past 48 years, I'd be on the phone with my lawyers right about now.
3. Clue for the Board of Trustees: the "far-reaching effects of the economic crisis" of which you speak? Yeah, those effects have far-reached themselves into the art market, too. I mention this, in case you hadn't heard that turning canvases into liquid assets isn't currently the cash cow it used to be.
4. My understanding is that the Rose is a financially sound, nearly self-supporting unit. The few museum expenditures that come out of the overall Brandeis budget are for heat and lights. If this is true, the Board's decision is not about operating costs, it's about plundering resources that are not specifically theirs to plunder--resources held in trust--to fatten other coffers. Which is a nice way of not saying the word "stealing."
5. This is not directed at the Brandeis Trustees, but to educational boards everywhere: why are the arts always on top of the Sacrificial Lambs list whenever any system has to tighten its budgetary belt?
Update, 02/01/09: Statement from the Fine Arts Faculty about the Rose Art Museum
- Statement from Michael Rush, Director of the Rose Art Museum
- Q&A with Rose Art Museum director Michael Rush - from Modern Art Notes
- Attorney General to Review Brandeis’s Plan to Close Rose - from ARTINFO
- In Opposition to the Closing of the Rose Art Museum - from Petition Site
- CAA Protests Rose Art Museum Closing and Art Collection Sale
- Brandeis on the Brink - from The Daily Beast
- The Rape of the Rose - from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, by David Bonetti, Brandeis Class of '69