Letter: Museum sell-off plan violates its mission

Posted
To the editor:

I am appalled by the decision of the Berkshire Museum to sell off an amazing treasure of paintings and sculpture, many by famed artists, to "repurpose" our museum as a science and natural history venue. The spokespersons say it is the "will of the community" to go in this direction and to violate the ethics rules to which the Berkshire Museum is supposed to adhere. How very "Trump-like"!

I didn't see a questionnaire sent out to the community to find out whether we supported this "repurposing" or if we wanted a larger lobby with nothing in it, or soon-outdated "interactive exhibits." If I had been asked, I would tell the board that as a child and high school student, I visited the museum several times a week because it was free and full of fascinating things. I used the black-light exhibit to view rocks, pored over the natural history and science things, but, once or twice seen, they ceased to stimulate the mind.

But the art — the paintings, the sculpture room where I would always look at the Greek gods with awe, and then go to the Athenaeum to research Greek myth and history — these gave lasting value. I knew all about the Rosetta Stone and mummification, the Mesopotamians, the Hudson River School and so much else that stemmed from my immersion in a true museum format.

Like so many of my PHS classmates (there were six National Merit finalists) we spent productive and wonderful free time in both the library and museum, and I credit both for my later academic career. They were priceless. And if the board wants to know why they it doesn't have a lot of visitors, it is because no kid can afford it. Therefore, the habit of valuing art and culture is lost to them, and to their children, too.

Our community is the poorer because of bad decisions on the part of bean-counting administrators. I had intended to make a bequest to the museum in my will — but now it seems that I might have to "repurpose" those funds. Please, trustees, don't make this even worse mistake.

Karen Canfield Border,

Pittsfield



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