To the editor:

Last December, I had the pleasure of singing with the women of the Berkshire Concert Choir during the Festival of Trees at the Berkshire Museum. We sang holiday music in the beautiful upstairs Zenas Crane room.The acoustics are wonderful for singing and the beauty of the room added to the joy of the event.

While I was at the museum, I wanted to check on the Hudson River School paintings to make sure they were still there. Why? A premonition? Perhaps. Maybe I was just thinking that they could have been loaned out to another museum for a show. I breathed a sigh of relief when I was greeted by the magnificent "Valley of Santa Ysabel, New Granada" by Frederic Edwin Church, and all seemed as normal. But now, here we are in a situation where the Hudson River School paintings sit at the auction house waiting for the highest bidder. I can hardly believe it still.

These masterworks are part of our heritage, a unique style of landscape painting that started in the Hudson Valley. As a former resident of Newburgh, N.Y. on the Hudson River, I can testify that these paintings are treasured in so many museums and historical sites all over the world, not just in the Hudson Valley.

For those in the Berkshires who may not understand why they should be important to us, just take a look outside or take a drive and see our fabulous Berkshire scenery. The mountains, the splendid fall colors, the yellow twilight, the colors of the sky during the approaching storm — these elements of nature are what inspired the masters! They used the light and darkness of nature and brought it to a whole new level.

These are gifts to the people of Berkshire County to touch our souls. I am sorry for people who seem to have no feeling or appreciation anymore for these masterpieces. What is to become of these works? If they go to private hands, they may be stored in sub-par conditions and deteriorate, or never be seen by the public again. Does the museum board really care so little about this exquisite artwork and so much about this great "new vision"? Do the board members really know the particulars of what this "new vision" will consist of? I am not saying there is anything wrong with new ideas, but why are they selling off the treasures we already have? What about the Crane Room? Will it stay the same or be changed? Does anyone know?

I ask the museum board to pause the art sale and have discussions with the public. There are always other ways to raise funds and to update exhibitions and the museum building itself.

Karen Ketcham,