Letter: Museum board must put a stop to the sale

Posted
To the editor:



While I appreciate those who are unhappy with the impending evisceration of the Berkshire Museum's core fine arts collection, my concern is about the flawed process.

It is not unusual to have a board led down the primrose path by a director with a silver tongue. It takes great courage to resist the tide of opinion. Also, it is hard to avoid the siren call to implement a grand vision with no need to engage donors or others with messy, inconvenient, contrary opinions. The board has sanctioned an all-or-nothing approach to the deaccession of the paintings. I am afraid that this stance was adopted because museum decision makers knew full well that their only chance of implementing the overall plan would require a single coup accomplished before resistance gelled.

When I read that opposition from professional organizations was anticipated and discounted, it is clear to me that "vision" was allowed to trump process. As is so often the case, the lose/lose scenario could have been avoided. Authentic community engagement was missing, and specious claims about why certain pieces were selected for sale have poisoned the atmosphere around the museum's process.

It is the board's responsibility to walk back this decision to provide adequate time for thoughtful discussion. Board members need to distinguish between the responsibility to support senior staff and their higher duty to the heritage of the organization entrusted to them.

Philip Sedgwick Deely,

Stockbridge



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