Letter: 'Bold step forward' has got it backwards
We are dismayed by the "bold step forward" letter to the editor of Oct. 6, signed by so many in support of the Berkshire Museum's plans to sell its artwork. As so often happens, the most important points are the ones left out.
Concerning the "bold steps" taken by the Clark, Mass MoCA and Barrington Stage, let's add the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. The omitted point is that all of them realized their visions the old-fashioned way: They worked for years to raise the necessary funds through the hard work of identifying and cultivating donors and convincing an even larger group of the validity of the vision. The result: vibrant institutions, motivated boards and dedicated contributors large and small — attending, promoting, supporting and taking pride in something of their own creation.
It is not appropriate to associate these institutions with the great-loss, no-cost approach proposed for the Berkshire Museum. Trustees be warned; the museum will never again attract a significant art donor. No traveling or shared art exhibition will ever again darken our doors. Fundraising, the heartbeat of a successful institution, will become ever more lackluster, perhaps even cease. And the museum audience will have only a passive, casual commitment to it.
Those of us lamenting this misguided approach do not object to a broader commitment to more contemporary initiatives. We do support it. Indeed, many of us contributed to it in the enormously successful $10 million capital campaign during Stuart Chase's term as director. Much has already been done in the creation of the Feigenbaum Innovation Center. It can be improved without disassembling a monument to two of the museum's most dedicated sponsors and without despoiling a lovely monument to neo-classic architecture.
Georgeanne and Jean Rousseau,
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