To the editor:
I've been following the Berkshire Museum's pending art sale with some interest. I've often heard that the selling off of physical assets by an institution, organization, business or whatever, really is only putting off the inevitable. If the body in question is having financial difficulties to the point of closing its doors, not able to survive on whatever means museums typically survive on, then a sell-off is only a stopgap action.
In this case if the museum needs the money to keep its doors open now, what happens when that money isn't enough in the future or is gone? After all, apparently the money it's had in the past was enough until now. Will it have to keep selling off some of its assets every few years? What happens if the art doesn't bring in the estimated amounts? What if the auction misses by $10 million the amount hoped for? That's a pretty substantial amount, half of the $20 million renovation estimate. Would it then have another auction to make up the shortfall? Maybe sell off its mummy? By the same token, what if it makes more than they hoped for? But you can play that "what if" game all day long.
The selling of the Norman Rockwell works seems to be the hot button of this whole sale. The signs some of the protesters were holding the other day only had pictures of the the Rockwell barbershop painting, none of the other works in question. In fact of all the works in question the only one I've seen pictured in The Eagle is Shuffleton's Barber Shop.
I realize that painting is one Mr. Rockwell personally donated to the museum, so it stands to reason that it would be the one used to personalize this whole thing. Other than an almost "by the way" mention of other artists' works by The Eagle, the Rockwells seem to be far and away the primary focus of The Eagle's and the public's concern.
I wonder, were the Rockwell paintings purchased by another museum for display, if that would mollify the general public? I also wonder if the Norman Rockwell works weren't included, would there be much concern by the general public about the sell-off at all?
Lebanon Springs, N.Y.