To the editor:
Twenty-some years ago I had the good fortune to work with Michael Govan, who was assistant to Thomas Krens at the time that the Williams College Museum of Art was undergoing a major expansion. Michael was a very bright young man and I judged that in time he would go far. Sure enough, shortly after the Williams project was complete Krens was named director of the Guggenheim in New York and took Govan with him.
I lost track of Michael after that but several Sundays ago, as I was reading the New York Times, I came upon an article featuring him, now head of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and in the midst of a $600 million expansion project. That's a breathtaking amount of money, but at the time of the article Govan was already more than halfway to his goal and confident of success.
As controversy has arisen over the Berkshire Museum's expansion plans, I was reminded of the Los Angeles story and the similarities and dissimilarities of the two projects:
Los Angeles County has a population of just over 10 million people. To fund their $600 million museum, each man, woman and child would have to kick in $60.
Berkshire County has a population of about 128,000, requiring $300 from each man, woman, and child for the museum to attain its stated goal — $1,500 for an average family of five. Since this is unrealistic, it is proposed that we sell off a good portion of the museum's prized art collection.
Faced with the very strong possibility that Norman Rockwell's (and other's) gifts to us will land in China, never to be seen again, perhaps we should explore another, more realistic plan.