To the editor:
The letter below was sent to Elizabeth McGraw, president, and Van Shields, executive director, of The Berkshire Museum.
Dear Ms. McGraw and Mr. Shields:
We are writing to join those requesting that the Berkshire Museum reconsider the sale of 40 works of art from its collection. As artists and members of the cultural economy of the Berkshires, we know firsthand the impact that the visual arts has on our community. Many of us spent our youth in front of some of those very paintings, sparking our imaginations and our creativity, inspiring us to become artists and cultural workers. Others were introduced to the museum as adult art professionals, and our practice was enriched by its intersection of art, history, and natural science. It breaks our hearts to think that the next generation of young people and community members would be deprived of that opportunity.
As members and supporters of the Berkshire Museum, we understand the board and staff were faced with a difficult decision, and we all want the museum to grow and thrive and remain relevant. However, we strongly believe that the visual arts should be an integral part of that vision. As others have pointed out, monetizing these priceless and irreplaceable works of art is considered unethical and risks the future success of the museum, alienating the larger museum community and future donors.
Instead, we propose that the leadership of the museum think of these works of art not as a disposable asset but as a means to strengthen the mission and future vision of the museum, thereby garnering support from the arts community, whose devotion to the Berkshires has already been well proven. We would like to invite the leadership of the museum to meet with us and discuss how we might work together to create a stronger future for the Berkshire Museum that includes the visual arts.
Daniel Bellow and Michael Boroniec are artists, Susan Bronson is the executive director of the Yiddish Book Center and former director of development and interim director, Berkshire Museum. The letter was also signed by Laurie Burdick, science educator, Lanesborough; Agnes Cartier, museum member, Pittsfield; Karen Chase, poet/writer, Lenox; Sarah Clark, educator, Pittsfield; Todd Clark, business owner, Pittsfield; Donald Clark, archivist, writer, Springfield; Stephen Cimini, educator, Pittsfield; Lynn Villency Cohen, art historian, Stockbridge;
Carrie Jean Converse, artist, Pittsfield; Michelle Daly, artist and educator, North Adams; Sarah Davis, art historian, Sandisfield; Eric Drury, artist/designer, Pittsfield; Carol Diehl, artist/critic, Housatonic; Paul Dodds, artist, Pittsfield;
Renee Dodds, business owner, Pittsfield; Peter Dudek, artist, Windsor.
Leslie Ferrin, gallerist, North Adams; Charles Flint, art & antiques gallery, Lenox; Warner Friedman, artist, Sheffield; Jared Gelormino, artist/educator, Stockbridge; Katherine Haig, artist, Pittsfield; Astrid Heiner, writer, North Adams; Ali Hermann, artist, Lenox; Susan Himmell, artist, Albany N.Y.; Grier Horner, artist, Pittsfield; Lyn Horton, artist, Worthington; Margit Gabor Hotchkiss, librarian, Dalton; Paul Graubard, artist, Lenox; Laurie Green, museum facsimiles, Pittsfield; Charles Guiliano, critic, North Adams; Jeanet T. Ingalls, artist, Lenox; Kathy Johnson, guest services associate, Becket.
Wendy Tarlow Kaplan, curator, Lenox; Martin Kaplan, esquire, Lenox; Linda Kaye-Moses, art jeweler, Dalton; Jennifer Kimball, artist, Pittsfield; Dawn Klein, educator, Adams; Kurt Kolok, art consultant, North Adams; Susan Frisch Lehrer, museum educator, Lenox; Susan Lyman, esquire, Lenox; Maggie Mailer, artist, New Lebanon, N.Y.;
David Peter Moser, art historian, Dalton; Melanie Mowinski, artist and educator, Cheshire; Christina Olsen, museum director, Williamstown; Sienna Patti, gallerist, Dalton; Edward Pelkey, artist, Pittsfield.
Amy Pollack, collector, Stockbridge; Lisa Provencher, science educator/artist, Berkshire Museum volunteer, Pittsfield; Leonardo Quiles, artist/educator, Dalton; Kimberly Rawson, communications consultant, Pittsfield; Janet Rickus, artist, Great Barrington; Susan Sauve, educator, Pittsfield; Evan Soldinger, art photographer, Dalton; Monika Sosnowski, artist, Windsor; Rosemary Starace, artist, Pittsfield; Daniel Porter Stevens, artist, Sandisfield; Ute Stebich, collector/gallerist, Plainfield; Danielle Steinmann, museum educator, Pittsfield; Leigh Uqdah, educator, North Adams; Cynthia Wick, artist, Lenox.