Saturday, 2:15 PM
Museum director assails Brandeis' plans
(Globe file photo/Dominic Chavez)
Michael Rush: “Art cannot be treated as a liquid asset.’'
By Globe Staff
The director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University has issued a scathing response to the university’s plans to close the museum and sell off its $350 million art collection, saying he feels “shame and deep regret over the shortsightedness of this decision.’’
“I want you to know from me some basic facts,’’ Michael Rush wrote in a statement posted over the weekend on the museum's website.
“Neither the Rose staff nor the Rose Board of Overseers had any knowledge of this decision,'' he wrote. "Indeed, we were never consulted at all. We were informed one hour before the press release went out.’’
The Waltham university, beset by a budget crisis, announced Tuesday it will shutter the museum and sell off a 6,000-object collection that includes work by such contemporary masters as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Nam June Paik. The move has shocked local arts leaders and drew harsh criticism from Rose supporters and the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries.
Commenting on the decision last week, Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz said the university had no other choice. The university's endowment has suffered amid in the economic meltdown, he said, and many of the school's longtime donors lost money in the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernard Madoff.
"This is not a happy day in the history of Brandeis," Reinharz told the Globe Tuesday night. "The Rose is a jewel. But for the most part it's a hidden jewel. It does not have great foot traffic, and most of the great works we have, we are just not able to exhibit. We felt that, at this point given the recession and the financial crisis, we had no choice."
In his statement, Rush asserted that “art cannot be treated as a liquid asset.’'
“Seeking a solution to dire financial difficulties by selling precious art that was given (or bought) in the deepest trust between donors and the university (via the museum) is an aberration,’’ he wrote. “Brandeis is putting its intellectual capital and very credibility as an institution of higher learning on the auction block.
“No one wins here,’’ Rush continued. “Even the expected buyers of this dearly held art will be purchasing tainted goods marked with the blood of this ill begotten action.‘’
For other recent updates on the museum furor, go to the Globe's Exhibitionist blog.