In January 2009, Brandeis University announced it would be closing the Rose Art Museum and selling off works from its collection, due to the University’s budget problems.
The museum was founded in 1961, with a gift of $1 million from the Rose Family, which funded construction of the building. Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz has said that the Rose would remain open for academic purposes, but would no longer serve as a public enterprise. The Rose family responded with a statement issued March 16:
Re–purposing the museum is closing by another name. 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.
In a written statement by museum director Michael Rush, he expressed his “shock and horror at the university’s decision to close the Rose Art Museum.”
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. History will record this as a desperate action that flies in the face of all intellectual and ethical standards. Brandeis is putting its intellectual capital and very credibility as an institution of higher learning on the auction block. No one wins here.
“What donor would give a piece of art that might be sold to pay for administrative expenses?” said Meryl Rose. “This was meant to be a public art museum when it was built. It can be nothing but.”
Rose family denounces plan to close Brandeis museum [Boston.com; March 16, 2009]
Museum Family Denounces Brandeis [NY Times; March 16, 2009]
Brandeis University to Shut Rose Art Museum [Art2u; January 28, 2009]