To the editor:
I am an artist at the Eclipse Mill in North Adams. I am writing to express my concerns about the Berkshire Museum.
I do think it becomes critical for many institutions to change with the times (and for them to shape those times as well!) and reinvent themselves to some extent. I have no objections with planned renovations and expansion/capital improvements of the Berkshire Museum to offer improvements to the museum's facilities, and to a degree, it's philosophy of art.
The issue I have right now is that far too much rare art from the museum's collections is being sold to finance the reinvention of the museum, and while construction, contracts, and renovations come and go — even the best ones — a work of rare and fine art is difficult and scarce to come by. Rather than offer complaints only, I believe it is important for stakeholders such as myself to offer some solutions. Therefore, here is my vision:
- Sell only one piece and reduce the extent of the renovations for now in order to retain more of the rare art.
- Look into state funding and grants to fund changes to the museum as part and parcel of the change implementation.
- Reserve some space in the museum to host fundraising events (weddings, special occasions, corporate events, etc.) where revenues can be put into an account and accumulated to pay for long-term innovations to the museum.
- When selling (some or all) of the art, negotiate with the buyers a deal in which they would have to lend the art work back to the museum for at least half the year for the next 10 years or where they would agree, by contract, to allow the art to remain displayed full-time on the museum's premises for the next 10 years, and then after that period, they could assume full possession.
If it could artfully and skillfully be negotiated with a very wealthy individual(s) who is open-minded about public art, it would allow the art to remain in the museum while also phasing in new wings and collections to the museum. It would be a phase-in process and not be a shock to the community.
I truly hope this helps add to the dialogue in the arts and general community.