To the editor:

Since the news broke last July about the proposed sale of items from the heart of Berkshire Museum's art collection, I have felt distressed. With the final ruling reported last week, I feel as physically ill as if someone had punched me in the chest — truly heartsick and offended:

For 10 years I have been a loyal member of the wonderful Berkshire Museum, whose eclectic art collection was unique for a city this size, comprised as it was of very special items spanning millennia, from Alexander Calder's first public commission (the mobiles in the Little Cinema) to artifacts from the ancient world, to paintings from Europe and the artistic traditions of our Berkshires/Taconic/Catskills region.

I am offended. As a member of the Berkshire Museum, I was never approached in any way for fund-raising. I always joined at a higher than individual level, so at least I could be supporting the museum more than the minimum, but never was there any fund-raising appeal.

I was never informed about the possible need to sell the gems of the art collection. I remember former Museum Director Stuart Chase told me personally about the sale of Russian Soviet-era paintings, which had been approved by the Collections Committee, before it happened.

I was never invited in any way to contribute ideas toward a proposed New Vision. I had not even heard about it until the news was published last year by The Eagle.

My Pittsfield family roots extend back to the 1830s. I left here in 1967 but decided in 2007 to move back to this historic city which had declared itself to be on an exciting path of fostering and maintaining the arts, with the Storefront Artists Project and architectural rehabilitation of the Colonial and the Beacon. How sad that this devotion to the arts has been abandoned. I am heartsick.

To the Museum board, FOR SHAME for the opaque way in which you have treated the members of the Berkshire Museum. And, to the public officials who supported this, FOR SHAME.

Nietzsche wrote "We have art that we do not die of the truth." I wonder what truth will reveal itself, now that much of Berkshire Museum's finest art is no longer here?

R.H. Rice,