To the editor:
Given its position as the paper of record, the ecumenical tone of the Berkshire Eagle editorial "Healing wounds from the museum's art sale" (May 20) was predictable and arguably welcomed by a deeply divided community.
The template of professional journalistic ethics was cautiously parsed as an ersatz fair and even dichotomy. Contradicting its own remarkable investigative reporting, however, there was a spineless slap on the wrist for an inept director, Van Shields, and underperforming board chaired by Elizabeth McGraw. Their combined incompetence during his tenure put the museum in such financial peril that it resulted in drastic measures. To "save" the museum, gone forever, are crown jewels of the collection it was entrusted to preserve.
By going to court to pursue deaccessions that violate fundamental museum ethics, the "success" of the Berkshire Museum is a clear and present threat to the preservation of all museums.
For this legal but immoral, vulgarian sacking of the museum, yet again, the editors of The Eagle are cheerleaders for a "New Vision" that will prove to be anything but. Given the ineptitude of the architects of this change there is nothing to look forward to. There will be far more loss than gain.
The Eagle is correct in noting "tone-deafness, mishandling and needless secrecy on the part of the museum's leadership."
Over the past year, Shields consistently ignored requests for interviews. There have been some remarks from McGraw. Behind the scenes manipulations of the craven Shields have been conveyed by a designated pit-bull mouthpiece.
The museum must be held accountable for every penny of its ill-gotten $55 million. It is time for Shields to step out of the shadows and share his "vision" in the light of day. Until then, any patter of "healing" is wishful thinking.
The writer is publisher/editor of Berkshire Fine Arts.