Letter: Crane should continue to live on in museum
There's a commemorative bronze plaque at the Berkshire Museum with the inscription, "In Memory of Zenas Crane; Donor of this Museum; Born December 6, 1840 — Died December 17, 1917; HERE HE STILL LIVETH." I wonder if he'll "still liveth" in the museum with the proposed "new vision" changes funded by the sale of 40 of his most valuable artworks? This includes gutting the main central core of the museum, which has a room dedicated to his wife, Ellen Kittredge Crane, who died in 1934.
These gifts that Zenas Crane gave to the people of Pittsfield and the region are cultural treasures that need to stay in the Berkshire Museum. The artworks are the fabric of the regional landscape. They are the cultural DNA of people and place. For a region that prides itself on the cultural arts, this is not the way to go. You can never regain the public trust after having deceived the public.
The leadership and generosity of Zenas Crane spanned far beyond the Berkshires. He was a generous and knowledgeable man. The creation of the Berkshire Museum allowed him to share an expansive view of the world. His memory deserves respect and his museum should remain intact for the children of today who become the adults of tomorrow.
When Zenas Crane donated the museum in 1903 for the study of art, natural science and culture, did he one day envision that these would no longer be central to the museum's mission? That his donations to the public trust and public commons would be overridden someday by a director and Board of Trustees? Generations of people have grown up, studied, loved and taken pride in these unusual and beautiful special gifts. Why wouldn't we want to find another way to preserve these treasures for future generations like Zenas Crane had intended? His gift "still liveth" in us all.
The writer is a former resident of Pittsfield.
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