To the editor:
I had the opportunity of speaking with the director and curator of Historical American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (PAFA) and that museum is very happy that it obtained the Frederic Edwin Church painting. In fact, the museum plans to feature it in a major exhibition next year.
That fine museum sees the quality and beauty of this great artist and his work; its gain is a loss to the Berkshires. I was impressed with its excitement at securing this picture.
It could have gone to some collector's private vault and be lost to the public forever as I fear other work has been. But that museum stepped up to the plate and saw the possibilities. My thanks to the museum. The director has invited Berkshire residents to come to the museum to see the painting and the collection for free.
Our family is sending the money we would have given to the Berkshire Museum for membership/contributions to the Pennsylvania Academy for Fine Arts. The Berkshire Museum will not receive money or visits from us.
My prediction is that Van Shields, having destroyed his second museum, got his reward — and now he must be off to do it in another museum. My guess is that board of trustees Chair Elizabeth McGraw will be quitting to "spend more time with her family" and the other trustees responsible for this debacle will be slinking off. The community will be left with an empty box of a building with a huge investment fund, conflicts of interest and an account to be squandered by consultants, financial brokers and lawyers. The community will be the loser.
Oh, and let's remember that we are called upon to have 'a fresh start... and join in the spirit of trust and confidence' with the trustees while they sell the remaining irreplaceable art and depreciate the Berkshires' art legacy.