To the editor:
Having spent 15 years of my life immersed in the world of New York City Museums as Curator, Deputy Director and Director, I have been following the current Berkshire Museum controversy with keen interest. Because my own background has made me intimately acquainted with the ethical and leadership issues involved, I find important truths in the diversity of opinions expressed, from one pole all the way to its opposite.
With several weeks now of listening to the current conversation I find that what concerns me far more than the rightness or wrongness of the museum’s decision is the tenor of our community conversation. Colleagues, friends and neighbors seem to be lining up in the “for” or “against” lines, often with a good deal of rigidity and lack of respect for the others’ views. It seems that wherever I go these days I am asked where I stand on this issue and urging me to take a side.
Given our current political climate, it is hard to watch our wonderful Berkshire community warring so contentiously. For me, the museum’s decision is a window on how complex these issues can be, how they are rarely black and white, how there can be truth in the gray areas. We live in a community blessed with exceptional museum professionals who are grappling with this very complex situation with integrity and conscience. I, for one, as a former Corporator of the museum, hope I can put my faith in the Berkshire Museum having done its homework, heard the many important voices and views, and ultimately taking a prudent course of action that will serve both the museum’s future and the community’s vitality.
Apart from her museum career, Barbara Bonner has served as Vice President of Bennington College and Kripalu as well as in leadership positions on ten nonprofit boards. She is also the author of two books and lives in Housatonic.