An active participant in the academic, cultural, and social life of Brandeis, the Rose seeks to stimulate public awareness and disseminate knowledge of modern and contemporary art to enrich educational, cultural, and artistic communities regionally, nationally, and internationally. The Rose affirms the principle that knowledge of the past informs an understanding of the present and provides the critical foundation for shaping the future. It promotes learning and understanding of the evolving meanings, ideas, and forms of visual art relevant to contemporary society.
Out in the cold: The Rose Art Museum, at Brandeis. (Photo by kenudigit.)
As you may have heard, Brandeis University wants to shut down the Rose Art Museum, with plans to liquidate it’s 6,000-piece collection to help the university stay afloat financially. And, as you may have heard, a whole lotta people are not very happy about it, including a number of the university’s alumnae — one of whom, Eric Gordon, is a graduate of the class of ‘76, and currently serves as the head of paintings conservation at the The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has kindly agreed to let us publish a letter he sent to the university’s president this afternoon regarding the situation: [read letter here]
Sometimes, it seems, we can't trust what Brandeis University's publicity machine would have us believe. As I reported here, a university spokesman told the Boston Globe's Geoff Edgers
that the Massachusetts Attorney General had been informed of
university's plan to sell the Rose Museum's entire collection. The
university spokesman declared that the AG (in Edgers words) "will not
block" the disposals. It now appears this may have been mere wishful
thinking on the university's part.
And the statement released yesterday by Brandeis' press office, which was specifically an announcement of the plan to close the Rose and sell the art, made it sound as if the faculty had approved this: [read on]
via Modern Art Notes:
By almost any standard, the Rose Art Museum is a model university art museum. It has a fine collection. It exhibits it regularly and creatively. It provides a place for the vanguard to emerge. Administratively, the museum draws about half of its operating budget from endowment funds -- a stunningly high percentage. So when I talked with Michael Rush, the Rose's director this morning, he was eager to point out that what's happening at the Rose has nothing to do with the Rose and everything to do with Brandeis. [read on]
Today's key Brandeis-Rose stories: Geoff Edgers gets great quotes out of angry museum supporters. Globe art critic Sebastian Smee is outraged.
Yesterday, while perusing the website of a particularly well-respected newspaper, I saw that it said Brandeis was "forced" to sell its art museum's art collection because of a financial crisis. (The newspaper quickly came to its senses and changed its reference.)
It reminded me that loose phraseology and blurry explanations of what's going on at Brandeis are effectively part of the problem. So to be clear: Brandeis is not forced to do anything. So far as we know, the university is not on the cusp of failure, insolvency or closing. It is not in danger of lacking the resources to care for the art in the Rose Art Museum. (As, say, Fisk University plainly was.) [read on]
Five Rose-related questions (updated2) - Jan 27
Just after the news about Brandeis' plans to close the Rose Art Museum and sell off its collection hit, artist David Maisel posted this as a comment on my Facebook profile: "Stunning. Can I get my photographs back please?"
Maisel said I could use that here and added, "The Rose Art Museum, then under the direction of Carl Belz and the curator Susan Stoops, welcomed me into their collection when I was a kid in my early twenties, teaching photography at a private high school a few miles away. It was an incredibly affirming experience. It seems antithetical to the mission of the University to close the museum and divest their art, no matter what the financial troubles they may be having."
“I was shocked. I’m still shocked,” Michael Rush, director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, said about the decision to close the museum. Photo: Erik Jacobs for The New York Times
By RANDY KENNEDY and CAROL VOGEL
Published: January 27, 2009
The Massachusetts attorney general’s office said on Tuesday that it planned to conduct a detailed review of Brandeis University’s surprise decision to sell off the entire holdings of its Rose Art Museum, one of the most important collections of postwar art in New England.
The decision to close the 48-year-old museum in Waltham, Mass., and disperse the collection as a way to shore up the university’s struggling finances was denounced by the museum’s board, its director and a wide range of art experts, who warned that the university was cannibalizing its cultural heritage to pay its bills.
“This is one of the artistic and cultural legacies of American Jewry,” said Jonathan Lee, the chairman of the museum’s board of overseers, who said that “nobody at the museum — neither the director nor myself nor anyone else — was informed of this or had any idea what was going on.” [read on]
via Artnet News:
Jan. 27, 2009
PROTESTS, RUMORS SWIRL IN ROSE CLOSING
Art lovers and professionals alike were stunned by the news that Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., was set to shutter its Rose Art Museum by the end of summer 2009, with plans to liquidate the entirety of its 6,000-piece collection. The decision was made unilaterally by the university board of trustees, and announced with no warning -- not even Michael Rush, the Rose’s director, was briefed in advance. "I’m in shock," Rush wrote Artnet Magazine. "We didn’t know anything about this."
The reaction so far is anger, to say the least. The head of the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries announced that the sell-off "puts all of our roles at our institutions in jeopardy," referring to college gallery directors who depend on the largesse and good will of private donors. The Rose has been built primarily through gifts. As recently as March 2008, it was touting donations from illustrious patrons valued at $2 million, including works by Marcel Dzama, Mike Kelley, Robert Motherwell, Vic Muniz, James Rosenquist, Joel Shapiro and Jessica Stockholder.
On campus, meanwhile, an editorial in the Justice, a student paper, compared the decision to "a junkie pawning his wedding ring," and called for students to "fight back." A student sit-in is already planned at the Rose for Thursday at 1 p.m. Such turmoil is likely to make any auction house nervous about taking on the sale. Public outcry caused a headache for Christie’s when Virginia’s Randolph College decided to use the New York auctioneer to deaccession some major works from the Maier Museum; in that scandal, too, the university employed heavy-handed tactics to avoid consulting with faculty, students and museum staff. Those sales were modest compared to the wholesale liquidation proposed by Brandeis.
Founded in 1961, the Rose is the source of considerable pride on campus. It contains notable contemporary works by Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Morris Louis, among others. Among the pieces that might be particularly coveted by the art market, according to those familiar with the collection, are Robert Raushenberg’s Second Time Painting, and Andy Warhol’s early-career Saturday Night Disaster. Brandeis said that it plans to replace the museum with a "fine arts teaching center with studio space and an exhibition gallery." University reps said that an unnamed "major art dealer" would oversee the fire sale from the school’s end.
Brandeis has said that it faces an annual budget shortfall of $10
million, and has already proposed slashing staff and increasing
enrollment (great combination, that!), as well as other exotic
endeavors like moving from individual majors to a system of
"meta-majors." More important, perhaps, is the role that the Bernard Madoff swindle may be playing in Brandeis’ radical move. The single largest patrons to the university were Carl and Ruth Shapiro, key figures in the Madoff scam, whose foundation has lost big [see Artnet News,
Dec. 16, 2008]. The Shapiros are notable museum supporters; one
unconfirmed report has the museum holding many works from the Shapiros
as "promised gifts."
One auction-house insider contacted by Artnet Magazine noted that just one of the better works from the Rose collection might fill the $10-million budget gap, adding, "There must be a bigger picture there" -- a sentiment shared by many. While Brandeis has an immediate funding short-fall, and is looking for gap-fillers to get it through the recession, officials note that the process of selling the art "could take up to about a couple of years, minimum." There is no precedent for selling off a university collection of this size.