Saturday, 2:15 PM
Rose family denounces plan to close Brandeis museum
By Geoff Edgers, Globe staff
In a public protest meant to put pressure on Brandeis University officials, fifty members of the Rose family today demanded the continued operation of the museum that bears their name and denounced plans to sell the art to pay its bills.
The Rose family, whose $1 million gift enabled the construction of the building that opened in 1961, dismissed recent statements by Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz that the Rose would remain open for academic purposes, although not as a public museum. The museum’s 7,000 objects include works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns.
"'Re–purposing' the museum is closing by another name,” read a statement signed by the family, which was scheduled to be read at a symposium at the museum tonight. “It would not be the Rose. Any other understanding of the university’s current plan is misinformation. The administration wants to control money given to the Rose for museum purposes, to sell precious works of art, and to close the museum. We Object.”
The announcement made clear that the furor over the museum’s future has yet to die down. In January, Brandeis announced it would close the Rose and sell its art to respond to university budget woes, a decision widely criticized by students, faculty members and museum leaders across the country.
Boston attorney Edward Terry Dangel III said today that he has been retained by Rose board chairman Jonathan Lee, who has protested the closure. He also spoke with the Rose family after members contacted him.
“If Brandeis doesn’t back off, we’ve got big trouble,” said Dangel, who said that the university would be violating the intent of donors if it were to sell the art they gave to the museum.
Joe Baerlein, a public relations consultant hired by Brandeis to deal with the Rose situation, questioned the Rose family’s decision to protest at this time. He said that a committee formed by the administration to examine the Rose decision is meeting on Thursday. That 11-member committee includes members of the faculty, alumni, trustees as well as representatives from the Rose.
When asked whether the Rose could potentially remain open, Baerlein said: “I’ve heard the president say, on more than one occasion, to different groups, that everything is on the table.”
The chances of Brandeis selling any art this fiscal year or next "are relatively minute," Baerlein said. "After that, they are at the mercy of seeing what happens in world economic conditions.”
In a statement, Brandeis Provost Marty Krauss said that the “the Rose Art Museum will remain open with a desired goal of being more fully integrated into the University's core educational mission. What precise role the Museum will have will be informed by the recommendations of the Rose Committee the Brandeis Board of Trustees.”
But Meryl Rose, a Rose board member who is representing the family members, feels the university is misleading the public by saying the museum could remain open when it is dramatically changing the mission.