Letter: Unfair attack on those who want to save art

Posted
To the editor:

I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Coleman for his op-ed column in Monday's Eagle. Those of us fighting the Berkshire Museum's $60 million sell-out of its art treasures hold "exclusionary, elitist, preventative attitudes" and are the "privileged, the rich, the retired, and the snobbish who hold the Berkshires back every time."

If that isn't enough to make me want to ditch my friends, he warns me I've been associating with a group of people, Save the Art-Save the Museum, obsessed with the culture of the "dead white male." And the dead white male in the Berkshires practiced, in his words, "subjugation of Native Americans and the harsh imposition of white culture, not to mention the holding of African slaves, a rigid class system in the Gilded Age that exploited poor locals and the exclusion of Jews for decades from local institutions."

He's right about that part of the county's past. But his effort to pin that stuff on us is twisted. I would say we are basically decent people of various denominations, incomes and ages trying to prevent the museum from making the biggest mistake in its history.

About now I should make a confession to Mr. Coleman, who has lived in the Berkshires 20 years. I love art. Even art by dead white men. I am a member of the Berkshire Museum, the Clark and Mass MoCA and visit them frequently.

By auctioning off the two Norman Rockwell paintings that the Stockbridge artist personally gave the Berkshire Museum, the museum is breaking the implied agreement that it would show his art, not sell it. By auctioning those paintings, the Hudson River School paintings, the Calders, and many others, the museum is selling its soul for what may turn out to be a bowl of porridge.

The museum under executive director Van Shields is "monetizing" a collection that could have been a major component of the museum's resurgence if he played it right. Instead he will use the money for an interactive museum of science and natural history with a great endowment and a multi-million dollar lobby. I am amazed by his seemingly gleeful disregard of the art and by the secrecy surrounding the museum's decisions. I'm mad at an institution I have loved for well over half of my 82 years.

And don't tell me the museum is about to close if we don't share Van's vision. It isn't. Articles in The Eagle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker have pointed that out.

Grier Horner,

Pittsfield



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