To the editor:
Regardless of where we stand on the Berkshire Museum's new vision, everyone should be disturbed by the personal attacks being launched against members of the museum's board of trustees and professional leadership.
It is fair to disagree with the museum's decision to sell 40 works of art. I grew up seeing these pieces at the Berkshire Museum, and I sympathize with those who say they are part of our heritage. I also acknowledge the concerns about the ethics of deaccessioning, though I am skeptical of rules written entirely by people who have a strong self-interest in the subject being regulated, such as art museum directors' self-interest in keeping artwork in the hands of museums.
However, accusing the board of betraying Berkshire children and plundering their birthright by shipping out the artwork under cloak of darkness (to paraphrase Timothy Cahill's recent oped column and similar comments on social media) is shrill and out of bounds. Unlike the authors of the art museum ethical codes, the museum board members are volunteers who have no self-interest in what the museum does with its collection.
Without exception, the museum board members I know are outstanding. My experience with them is that they have tremendous integrity and are doing their best to act in the community's interest. In addition to the hundreds of hours of time they have dedicated to the planning process, many of them have supported the museum financially for decades and will undoubtedly donate to the upcoming renovation.
The attacks on them should be very troubling to all of us.