To the editor of THE EAGLE:

As the former director of the Research and Academic Program at the Clark Art Institute (a program that has invited nearly 300 residential scholars from around the world over the past 15 years), I have been intrigued by the controversy surrounding the Norman Rockwell Museum and the recent publication of Deborah Solomon's book.

In any well-researched study of a period, a person, an institution, a work of art, etc. -- as her's clearly is -- new arguments are put forward that inevitably engage an open-minded readership. It is hardly surprising that the Norman Rockwell Museum would want to celebrate this newest initiative.

Studies dedicated to the life and work of Rockwell will never be in total agreement in every detail. Differences in point of view lie at the very heart of what history writing is all about. In scholarship in general, conclusions are often tentative and lead to further interpretations about the subjects under review.

Even if controversial to some, there is little doubt that Solomon's views must be given serious consideration. Critique is one thing, censorship quite another. To foreclose sound speculation is to compromise the spirit of intellectual inquiry.

MICHAEL ANN HOLLY

Williamstown

The writer is director, Emeritus Research and Academic Program at the Clark Art Institute.