Letter: Missed opportunity for two county museums
To the editor:
The Norman Rockwell family is to be supported for their opposition to the sale of their father's and grandfather's works. I strongly support their opposition.
Gifts to museums and art galleries are cultural and historical contributions from their creators, and I do not believe they are in any way meant to be objects in a retail store. When beautiful, contributed works of art are treated in that capacity, it diminishes a museum but, more importantly, it demolishes local and area culture and pertinent history of the region. When that devastation occurs, it deletes the unique character of the community it highlights.
To see Joe Thompson of Mass MoCA champion this decision by the Berkshire Museum brings to mind exactly what I am talking about — the painting over of the school children's art on the columns on Marshall Street.
For many years I have been looking for a museum or library home for my primary source historical wireless collection which requires it under the auspices of one or the other to qualify for digitizing under a Massachusetts line item. "KeySpark" is about the lifelong work of my great uncle, Arthur A. Isbell, from North Adams, the fourth wireless operator in the United States.
The mill children art on the columns was about products of Arnold Print Works (the largest employer in North Adams), of which my great-grandfather, Arthur Gallup, was treasurer and then president. The substitution of the wireless program that Mass MoCA put in its space holds special significance because of my collection. Neither Mass MoCA nor the Berkshire Museum were interested in even viewing "KeySpark" as a possible exhibit with the possibility of a contribution. So here is wireless history right here in North Adams with a museum that is not even aware of its existence and the significance of another piece of our great industrial international city.
The Lemelson Foundation sponsored the George Clark "Radioana" collection at the Smithsonian Institute (of which Berkshire Museum is affiliated), and my collection complements that collection.
I have done several presentations at the New England Wireless & Steam Museum in East Greenwich, R.I, at the Massie Wireless Station that the museum saved from demolition at Point Judith. What a thrill to sit at the transmitter where my great uncle worked in 1906. Bob and Nancy Merriam, the founders of NEW&SM, told me that anyone who was a bona fide wireless historian knew who my great uncle was.
Needless to say, I am so grateful that a contribution was not made to either the Berkshire Museum or Mass MoCA.
Rachel I. Branch,
The writer is a mayoral candidate.
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