Letter: Art donors' intentions argue against sale
To the editor:
The Berkshire Museum's founding documents make it clear that the collections (past, present and future) were to be held permanently and were never to leave Pittsfield. The founders of the museum used very specific language. They meant for the donated items to be permanently held for the community.
In later years, letters between Berkshire Museum Director Stuart Henry and Norman Rockwell state that the Rockwell paintings given to the museum were going to be part of the "permanent collection." Henry wrote that they were always "favorites" of the viewing public.
Additionally, Norman Rockwell signed a book for Henry in which he stated that the Berkshire Museum was his "favorite art museum." Just think about that: Mr. Rockwell gave those works to his favorite art museum, Berkshire Museum! It is clear that Rockwell intended them to remain there. In support of this stance, the Rockwell family has stated that they believe the artist meant them for the permanent collection, and not to be sold for cash by the museum.
It has been said that "donors' intentions" or "restrictions" on gifts are what decide whether items can be sold by a museum. Well, it is clear that, in the case of Berkshire Museum, the donors intended the art to remain! Based on these documents, the sale of the art should be stopped.
The writer grew up in Lenox and Pittsfield.
This letter has been corrected. Stuart Henry was the museum director and contemporary of Rockwell. An earlier version incorrectly referred to the museum director at that time as Stuart Chase, who was a director of the museum, but not during Rockwell's time.
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