To the editor:
Joining many others, I object to the Berkshire Museum's pending sale of 40 artworks to fund a renovation and an endowment. Many of these pieces, by Rockwell, Church, Bierstadt, Calder and others, constitute the core of the museum's collection and the cultural legacy of the Berkshires. Once gone, they can never be replaced.
The museum claims it has financial issues and that this sale is the only way to ensure its future. I want the museum to show how it arrived at this. To help us understand, I ask the museum to publicly detail its financial history up to the present and to present the plans and revenue projections for both the renovation and the endowment.
I trust that the board and trustees acted in good faith, but seemingly without the full awareness of what the museum and the art it contains mean to the people of the region. I imagine it did not realize the enormous amount of knowledge and experience that is available here to tap and use for solutions that both save the art and the museum. The Facebook group, "Save the Art at the Berkshire Museum of Natural History AND Art," has been an education to me in that regard. With several hundred members, the group abounds with grounded ideas, analysis, and passion. I urge the museum to take advantage of this wealth to help it build new wealth and the programs it needs to keep the art, stay open, and meet the future.
A final word about art's place in a museum of the future and art's connection to science and natural history: Others have argued convincingly about how paintings and sculpture can illustrate and demonstrate the laws and findings of science. But more important than that is to show art's sufficiency, to let it stand next to science equally, as it should as one of the two great modes of human inquiry and understanding.