Letter: Berkshire Museum a precious gift

To the editor:

Growing up in Pittsfield, the Berkshire Museum was my childhood museum. It truly was a window on the world, and I am indebted to Zenas Crane for his gift to the Berkshires, especially to those families who did not have the luxury to travel to other cities and countries around the world.

My love of the natural world and art were nurtured at the Berkshire Museum, and my first serious art classes were in the museum basement. Everything in the museum's collection made an impact on me, including the paintings that are now to be sold. No one mourns their loss more than those of us who grew up at the Berkshire Museum.

One and a half years ago, I was asked to consider joining the Berkshire Museum board. While I was aware of the serious financial challenges, I decided I would rather participate in problem solving, rather than sit back and see the museum close. I joined a hard-working group of 21 experienced, dedicated trustees, all working to make the museum relevant and sustainable for the community we now serve.

The process has been difficult and painful, but I am confident in the direction the board has taken after a two year process of exploring and evaluating options. The new Berkshire Museum will utilize the collection in an interdisciplinary approach that will engage and excite all ages, and I am anxious for these details to be revealed. Meanwhile, The Clark, Mass MoCA, WCMA, and Norman Rockwell Museum complement our efforts by providing educational programs to help children appreciate and love art. Each museum serves a unique role in the Berkshires.

I ask the Save the Art folks to look more broadly and advocate to save the museum. This is about so much more than paintings we all love. Because of the Berkshire Museum, I can walk into any museum in the world and feel I belong. I am committed to giving this experience to our Berkshire families and visitors, opening their eyes and minds with wonder, and honoring the legacy of the Crane family. We all need to work together to make this happen, or we will lose a precious gift.

Joan Hunter,


The writer is a member of the Berkshire Museum's board of trustees.


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