Letter: Museum does disservice to Rockwell and Scouts

To the editor:

As a life-long Berkshire County resident and a multi-year Boy Scout leader, I am appalled by the Berkshire Museum's plans to auction off the best of its art collection, including two original Rockwells, gifted by the artist himself.

Scouts were a favorite subject of Rockwell's, and for decades he contributed to the annual Boy Scout calendar. He used local Scout models as subjects, including my own niece. This topic hits home for me on many levels.

Over the years, I went on many all-age Scout Fun museum day trips. This was an obvious destination for Scouts, and because of its multi-faceted programming and exhibits, they were able to fulfill the requirements of different types of badges. Natural history related things of particular note were the mummy, Native American artifacts, rocks, aquarium, snakes, birds, etc. How wonderful that, in the very same museum, they also had access to world-class fine art, which helped them earn their art appreciation badges.

To local, underserved Scouts who do not have the means to visit some of Berkshire County's other renowned art museums, our unique multi-disciplinary institution right here in Pittsfield has been a "one-stop shop" museum experience. For many, this was not simply an introduction to the museum world; if not for these field trips to the Berkshire Museum, they wouldn't have had exposure to any museum, of any sort.

Since then, I've had the privilege of watching multiple Scouts whom I worked with as children grow into teenagers and, now, adults. They told me years later how profoundly affected they were by these childhood experiences, in ways they never realized at the time. The museum gave both fond memories and, sometimes, inspired future collegiate studies. I've seen technological advances changing both their learning and social experiences.

Our youth is bombarded with computers, screens, and electronics of every sort. While this is ultimately beneficial to education, I fear that in the process of updating, something may be lost. Along with high-tech gadgets, children also need to see actual tangible artifacts. Seeing Rockwell originals made an impression on Scouts that isn't the same as seeing them on TV or on a computer screen, which they can do anytime.

Rockwell believed that the richest subjects were the common people. Rockwell donated his paintings so that the general public could view them, including his beloved Scouts.

Donna Broga Carnevale,



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