Letter: Museum has time to undo damage

To the editor:

The plans of the Berkshire Museum to sell off many of its artworks and "reinvent" the museum is a complex situation with no easy answers, However, it has become increasingly and unnecessarily tragic.

The staff and board may have had the best of intentions in their plan to improve the museum's finances and keep up with the times. If they had chosen to be open and transparent, they could have been met with broad community support.

However, the secretive process, the "take it or leave it" way they unveiled a final plan, and their dismissive attitude toward skeptics, is divisive. The museum's reputation has been tarnished nationally.

The museum also seems to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The catalogue of its art on the auction block illustrates what an amazing collection the museum has. Why not look at different ways to emphasize and capitalize on that asset rather than selling it off? There are many alternatives.

For example, the collection has the making of a great little art museum. Imagine what a contribution to the revitalization of Pittsfield it would be to create an expanded or satellite art museum in the city that becomes a destination for art lovers. It could also help to provide resources to support the science and history aspects of the museum's mission.

That's just one idea. There are many others available, if the museum would chose to listen to the public and to experts.

The museum is not facing an immediate and dire emergency requiring immediate and drastic action. Rather than present the current plan as final, why not use it as a proposal and jumping-off point for a truly public process of discussion and planning?

If the museum staff and board reconsider their strategy, they still could undo much of the damage and strengthen its long-range future and role in the community.

John Townes,



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