Letter: Berkshire Museum made difficult, wise decision
Pittsfield, December 25, 2025.
Merry Christmas, Berkshire County!
The Berkshire Museum announced today it will close its doors on Jan. 1. Notice was sent to all employees yesterday, Christmas Eve, of their termination on Dec. 31.
The museum's collections manager will remain until all artworks are properly distributed after they go to auction at Sotheby's set for Feb. 1 of next year. Rumors abound that many of the works are being eyed by several Russian and Chinese plutocrats desirous of adorning the walls of their private museums with these wonderful works.
I'm not sure as I, along with several others who have written of their objection to the recently announced initiative by the museum to sell 40 of its artworks, was not at the table to fully understand how they came to this decision.
However, as clearly defined in its announcement, this money raised is for a renovation of the more than 100-year-old building. To modernize it in support of its futuristic mission of transforming the old world museum into a new age institution, in order to assure its sustainability on a what has become a new landscape for modern museums to exist. Its plan to expand on science and technology experiences will be designed to delight, excite and teach the young and the young in the old. And, in my opinion, the plan will set the museum apart from the Clark, Mass MoCA and Norman Rockwell as it is unable to compete with such icons. If you can't compete you must change or go away.
Additionally, it will increase its endowment to give some relief to the ever-increasing pressure of fundraising in a county with a plethora of nonprofit cultural and civic institutions vying for a greater share of a very defined pool of local money. The museum doesn't have the kind of national and international reach as do the aforementioned iconic institutions located a stone's throw from the museum.
The purists who remain strict adherents to an ideology that decries deaccession for the purpose of funding a future, sustainable mission will allow this institution to fall on its sword, joining the road paved with failed similar institutions that would not or could not peek into the future and recognize the need to change.
In the museum's announcement it articulated the more than extensive diligence it did before arriving at this decision. I am sure every possible solution was on the table being sliced and diced. I admire the courage it took for Executive Director Van Shields and the Board of Directors to take this bold step to assure a vibrant life of the Berkshire Museum for another 100 years.
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