Sale of artwork will benefit community by modernizing Berkshire Museum

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By Saturday, Oct 14 Letters  31 Comments

To the Editor:

We are artists, small business owners, parents, and Berkshire community members, and we support the Berkshire Museum’s bold plan and vibrant vision to bring the museum into the 21st century so it can continue to creatively serve all of us.

Thoughtful, proactive change is the only thing that will save our Berkshires from a rapidly declining population and rising income inequality. We have watched the Clark Art Institute, Mass MoCA and Barrington Stage Company take bold steps to expand their footprints and their missions to better serve our community in recent years, and we are excited that Berkshire Museum will be next.

We are impressed with the museum’s extensive 2-year master planning process and welcome the significant infusion of funding into our creative economy to go towards the renovation of the museum and the expansion of their endowment, allowing them to focus on serving our community. We trust the Berkshire Museum.

We understand and sympathize with the sadness among some that 40 works of art will no longer live in the Berkshires. But they will not be forgotten, and their departure will bring about something so much more priceless than what they’re worth — enriched experiences for a changing community.

We are excited to imagine the possibilities that will come to life with this bold step forward, and will let the museum lead the way with our full support.

Among those who signed this letter, in alphabetical order by first name:

Alan Bauman, Pittsfield ma
Alan R. Sandstrom
Alanna Kellogg, Schenectady, NY
Alexandra & Andrew Groff, City Residents
Alexandra Heddinger
Alice and Brian McGowan, Egremont MA
Alicia Ouellette, Slingerlands NY, educator.
Alison Basdekis, Stephentown, NY (educator, parent, small business owner)
Allison Lassoe Sheffield MA
Amy Krzanik, Cheshire, Mass.
Amy Rudnick, Sheffield, MA
Andi McGraw
Andrea Sholler, Managing Director, Jacob’s Pillow Dance
Andrew Foster, West Stockbridge, MA
Andrew W. Kelly, performing jazz musician, music educator, businessperson, youth sports coach, former Pittsfield mayoral candidate
Anita Stuart
Anna Traggio Educator
Annee Goodchild Pittsfield, MA artist
Audrey Bowen Pittsfield, MA
Barbara Roberts, Pittsfield, MA, Retired Educator
Bart Mosley, Stockbridge, MA
Ben Urmston, Sheffield, MA
Beth Hammond
Betsy Hayes Longmeadow MA 01106 (retired educator)
Bonnie Hoskeer Kirchner
Brian Butterworth, Acton, MA Berkshires Cheerleader
Brody McCauley
C J Bolster, Pittsfield MA
Cara and Lance Vermeulen
Carly Gaherty Pittsfield, MA 01201
Carmen Dockery Perkins, Lakeville, CT, Parent and Educator
Carolyn Butler – Lenox, MA – community member
Cathy Deely, Pittsfield, MA community volunteer
Charlie Noyes, Salisbury, CT Artist & Educator
Chloë Geffken
Chris Freeman Stonington, CT Non-profit professional
Chris Parkinson
Christina Wynn, Pittsfield, MA
Christine Condaris, Williamstown MA educator
Christopher Guidette, Otis, MA — member, OLLI Board of Directors
Christy Curran, Needham Mass. Former Berkshire School parent
Churchill Cotton, Pittsfield MA Grandparent
Cindy Freeman
Claudia Perles, Lenox, MA Philanthropist
Colin D. Sykes, Pittsfield MA
Colin Mathews
Dan Mead and Sally Eagle
Darcie Sosa, Dalton MA, Marketing Manager, Freelance Writer, Art lover, Museum lover
Dave Sondrini, Northampton, MA
David S. Rosenthal 2 Field Road Stockbridge, MA 01262
David Tierney -Pittsfield, Massachusetts-business owner
Dennis Kinne, Pittsfield MA
Diana LaCasse, educator and parent
Elizabeth (elizag) Gordon
Elizabeth DeMarco, Artist and Business Owner, Pittfield, MA
Ellie Lovejoy, Mount Washington, MA — Parent, Educator
Emil J. George, Attorney
Eric Mabee
Evan Hickok, Pittsfield MA. Engineer, manager, parent, art and science lover
Evan Lurie, Lanesborough, MA
Faith Gagliardi, Pittsfield MA, community member
Frances Jones-Sneed, Williamstown, MA, Educator
Gail Krumpholz , Pittsfield MA
Gail Street. Lenox,Ma.
Gary Pemble
Gary Schiff, Lenox, MA
Gina Foley
Greer Hed, parent, Pittsfield MA
Heather Gallagher, Pittsfield, MA
Holly Smith-Bove, Hatfield, MA, former museum director
Howie Marshall
Jackie Melendez
Jackie Thomas, Lee, MA, parent
James Sylvia Pittsfield MA, Dad, Photographer, Business Owner
Jan Charbonneau, Lenox, MA Retired Educator
Jed Scala, Great Barrington, MA
Jeffrey St. John, M.D., Pittsfield, MA (Parent and museum member)
Jenn Gomez, Pittsfield, MA
Jennifer A. Hines
Jennifer Gaenzle Smith, Sheffield, MA
Jenny Benson Pittsfield, Ma, Business owner
Jenny Wright, Pittsfield MA
Jeremy LaCasse, Educator and Parent
Jesse McCauley
Jessica Provenz, parent, writer
Jill Vantine, Norfolk, CT 06058…Parent and realtor
Jim McKellar, Becket MA
JoAnne Moran Pittsfield, MA
Jocelyn Chapman
Joe & Laurie Gallagher Pittsfield MA
John Krol, Pittsfield MA, small business owner, husband, father, city councilor
John Toole, business owner, Lee,Ma.
Jonah J. Sykes, Chair of Berkshire Young Professionals
Judith Frost
Judith winters
Jules Seltzer Pittsfield, MA business owner
Julia Doyle, Pittsfield MA. Business owner and parent.
Kaitlyn Pierce
Karden Rabin
Karen Rowe
Karin Noyes Salisbury CT, Artist and art appreciator, 30+ year resident of Western New England
Kat Lockridge, Lee, Ma 1Berkshire Board member, owner, Classical Tents and Party Goods
Kate Moran and Rafi Pitts, Los Angeles, CA, Artists
Katherine Casey
Kendal Phipps
Kenneth M. Shearn
Kevin Kraham, Pittsfield, MA
Kim and Dennis Kinne, Pittsfield, MA
Laura Bushey
Laurie Grusauski, Salisbury, CT
Laurie Tierney -Pittsfield Massachusetts -business owner
Leah Thompson
Leigh Sylvia, pittsfield ma, parent
Leslie Sears, Dalton, MA, stage manager
Letty Downs, Lakeville, CT educator
Lindsay Codwise, Pittsfield, MA
Lindsey Marion
Lisa Kuerzel, Montague, MA (Educator)
Lisa Martin, Richmond MA
Lola Jaffe – Stockbridge Ma. resident
Lyn Biasin
Lynne Mazzeo Pittsfield Mass
Marc J. Wrzesinski, Photographer, Pittsfield, MA
Marcia Mitchell, Lee, MA – small business owner, grad student, millennial badass
Marcia Z. Feuer, Richmond, Community Member, Grandparent
Marissa Dubecky, Pittsfield, MA
Marjorie Cohan Pittsfield MA
Mark Pedrotti, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Vice President – Marketing at Berkshire Bank
Mark Tomasi, Pittsfield, MA
Mary Ann Fanning, Excellent letter.
Mary Garnish Bauman, self-employed graphic designer, Garnish Design
Mary Huth Pittsfield, Ma
Maxine Bookless, Pittsfield, MA
Megan Whilden, former Director of Cultural Development for the City of Pittsfield
Meghan St. John Pittsfield, MA
Melissa Bissell Pittsfield, MA parent, photographer
Melissa Quirk Cairns, Berkshire, MA, parent, educator, poet
Michael and Lynne Mazzeo, Pittsfield Ma, business owner
Michael Mazzeo
Michael Vincent Bushy, Pittsfield
Michelle Artioli, Pittsfield MA, Downtown Pittsfield Business Owner
Mr and Mrs Gerald S. Doyle, Jr.
Mr and Mrs Paul J. Capitanio
Matthew Chester, Stockbridge, MA Role, business owner
Nan Bookless, Pittsfield, MA; owner/partner BookMarc Creative; graphic designer and fine artist
Natalie Johnsonius Neubert
Pamela Downing Pittsfield MA
Pamela Effrein Sandstrom
Pamela Knisley
Parker Chandler of Pittsfield, MA; Educator, Parent, BM Member
Pat Cotton , Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Paul M. Byrd, Pittsfield, MA. Structural Engineer and appointed member of the Pittsfield Historical Commission
Peter & Robin Buratto
Peter Garlington Pittsfield MA, Designer, parent, art lover
Peter Lafayette Pittsfield, MA
Peter Merwin Pittsfield MA
Phil Coleman, Business Owner
Phyllis Criddle, North Adams, MA.
PJ Danahey Pittsfield, MA – business owner
Priscilla Wolf, Educator, Lakeville, CT
Rachel Mabee
Rebecca Marzotto
Regina Burgio, Pittsfield, MA (designer/business owner)
Renee and Steven Erenburg Richmond MA
Richard Rowe, Dalton, MA, President, U.S. Government Products, Crane Currency
Richard Squailia, West Stockbridge, MA Business Owner
Robert Grien, Board Member of IS 183 and Fine Art Photographer
Robin McGraw , President, Black Rock Foundation, Major supporter of Berkshire Museum
Roger Gutwillig, museum volunteer
Rose Ellis, Williamstown, MA, Former Superintendent of Schools
Sandra Lanning – pro science & pro solvency parent and engineer
Sandra L. Burton
Sara Paul, Hinsdale MA
Seth Nash, Lenox MA
Shannon Costello, Brooklyn, NY, MCLA Alumni & Nonprofit Administrator
Sharon Chambliss, Clifton Park, NY
Stan Spencer, Lenox, MA Spoken Word Poet and Storyteller
Stephanie Iverson, parent + artist
Stephanie Merwin Pittsfield, MA, Parent
Steven Green
Susan Finnegan, Emerson NJ
Susan Kelly, Pittsfield , Ma. Psychotherapist, museum volunteer.
Tammy Decker Sharon CT, Teacher
Tessa Kelly
Nancy Vale, Lenox, MA, This decision to move ahead and preserve our wonderful Museum in a new and expanded way to keep up with the ever changing times is wonderful!! I wholeheartedly support this effort! I am a parent, grandparent, educator and concerned citizen of the Berkshires
Tom & Suky Werman, Lenox MA
Tom Biasin
Tracey Garlington – Richmond, Ma
William Hines, Sr., Retired Founder of Interprint, Inc.
William Yehle

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31 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Karen Smith says:

    Well said and I agree

  2. Peter Dudek says:

    One would think that educators, parents and other members of the community would want the museum to act in an ethically transparent manner.
    Apparently not.
    The shameful treatment of the Rockwell family by Van Shields is being supported by this group of lemmings.
    It is time to bring back Norman Rockwell’s paintings.

    1. David R. says:

      Agreed. I am NOT opposed to change, or exploring new directions for the museum; I think that the museum ought to move into the future and find ways to better educated and serve its community. But a violation of the trust of the artworks’ donors seems unethical and immoral to me. Haven’t viable alternatives to the museum’s growth already been presented by credible sources? The way this is happening, as I understand it, just seems wrong.

      1. Peter Dudek says:

        Agree!

      2. Peter Dudek says:

        Agree! Change course now!

  3. Jeffrey says:

    Add my name to the list of supporters.

  4. Ann Getsinger says:

    The director and board have pointlessly created division among deeply caring people not just in the Berkshires but around the world. This absurd mess comes from not communicating, not listening to the wider community, then forcing an unclear plan on many museum lovers only when it’s too late. This isn’t trust building behavior. The fact that our meaningful, beautiful, and valuable paintings will be gone forever to be enjoyed only by a fewer investors and the super- wealthy is just part of this sad picture. Where’s the respectful community building? Change with integrity and inclusion? Yes. This change? No.

  5. Margaret Hassett says:

    I am disappointed to see some of the names on this list. The actions of the Berkshire Museum is not in the best interest of Berkshire Residents but instead looks only at its holdings as assets. The Rockwell gifts are being tossed aside along with the goals and obligations a museum stands for. This is a short sighted move on the part of the institution that used to be a museum for the Berkshires.

  6. Linda Cleary says:

    I think it is very unfortunate the Berkshire Museum plan was presented to the public as an either/or proposition. It was a serious error on their part. It is not an either/or situation. It is possible to keep the art and re-invigorate the museum with new exhibits. Unfortunately, the museum has packaged it in such a way as to polarize the community unnecessarily. I applaud all concerned for taking an interest and publicly voicing their views. In addition to these 195 names there are over 1500 names on another list of people asking to pause the sale to consider ways to keep the art that rightfully belongs here. I think we can all agree we support the museum and want to see it thrive. A museum founded to preserve and showcase the beauty and richness of the Berkshire County community will not thrive if the said community is divided. Let’s put the sale on hold, step back and engage in genuine dialogue. The museum needs to share the data upon which their concept and projection for future success is based. Let’s work with the museum professionals from across the country who have spoken out and find a way keep the museum and its reputation intact. I know of no profession where it is acceptable or possible to flaunt ethical standards, retain the respect of the public and successfully continue with business as usual. There will be a backlash that could undermine the future of the museum no matter what it looks like if the unspoken public trust is not restored. There wasn’t even a ‘final viewing’ for the people who have patronized the museum for years. This alone shows a profound lack of respect for the people the museum claims to serve and for whom the donors intended their gifts.

  7. Carol Diehl says:

    Hmmm….Seems like a lot of names, until you realize that over 1500 people have signed a petition to pause the sale and consider options that don’t involve plundering the museum’s collections and gutting the Crane Room–and that the Save theArt Go FundMe campaign has netted over $10,000 in just four days. Clearly public opinion is behind saving our Berkshire history. After having alienated much of the county, the funding foundations, and previous capital campaign donors, who will keep the Museum going when the $60M is down the drain? The kind of exhibitions the Museum projects are made by outside commercial exhibition contractors, have to be redone every couple years, and are VERY expensive–the money could be gone in a flash, and Pittsfield could be left with a destitute museum and unusable building. Yes, creative programming and energetic development is takes more work than selling off collections, yet is the route employed successfully by all other museums. And now, with the Museum in the national spotlight, if they were to pause the sale and turn into the good guys, the money flowing their way would be boundless.

      1. Carl Stewart says:

        Peter Dudek, how has it been “shown” that the Berkshire Museum is not in financial difficulty? Oh, I know, partisans writing letters to the editor of the Berkshire Eagle have proved this non-fact. And what kool aid (sic) do you think I’ve been drinking? I don’t claim to have the expertise you seem to possess on this issue, but absent proof of dereliction of duty by the Trustees, I am prepared to accept their views over yours. What do you believe their ulterior motives are? There is enough nonsense on both sides to go
        around but one thing I am certain of is that name-calling by the conservatives, i. e., the Save the Art crowd, will not stop the sale on November 13th. Really, doesn’t one of this crowd have $30 million or so to
        purchase the beloved Rockwells…which virtually none of this crowd has visited in the past 10 years…to keep them in the Berkshires?

    1. Carol Diehl says:

      And an update, I’m told that the petition now numbers over 2,000.

      1. David Peter Moser says:

        Thanks, Carol. We hate to have to be the ones to say “I told you so.”

    2. Hope Davis says:

      If the Museum had only applied their clandestine, polarizing tactics toward a more positive strategy …to include and build consensus on a sensible plan that saves the ART, we could have a win-win outcome for all the residents of the Berkshire communities served by this Museum. I am surprised and disappointed to see the few names on this list that are known to me—I can only assume they are not clear on the facts of this deaccession plan, and its long term ramifications.

    3. Hope Davis says:

      Yes. 100% agree.

  8. Carl Stewart says:

    I support enthusiastically the signers of this letter and ask that my name be added to the list. The kind of speculation offered by the opponents, exemplified by Ms. Diehl, is without any factual basis whatsoever. What will they say if the museum recalls or pauses the sale (which neither it nor Sotheby’s will do) and the museum then fails financially and closes? “Oops, bad call?” The “new” Berkshire Museum will be serving a community too often ignored by The so-called cultural elite, that is the young and the economically disadvantaged. And, isn’t at least some of the money being raised going to lawyers who will pursue a frivolous lawsuit against the Museum? If a lawsuit is commenced solely for the purpose of delay and without a colorable legal basis, then the lawyers for the plaintiffs will be in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibilty. But, we now have, according to Diehl, 2,000 people who are ignoring social responsibility over a couple of canvasses.

    1. Peter Dudek says:

      Well I think the Mass Cultural Council is a legitimate organization and it questions the museum’s financial claims.
      And if the Berkshire museum had announced years ago, when they first started to examine selling work, that they wanted to sell work and gave area museums the opportunity to explore buying works, I do believe that funds would have been secured and many pieces could have been added to local collections.
      But the museum didn’t want that, did they.

    2. John Townes says:

      I love the way you characterize thiose who want to Save the Art as elitists and conservatives who do not care about the disadvantaged. What a crock. Oh gosh so PC….. I’d say its conservcative to blindly accept the dictates of entrenched leaders and organizations as the gospel truth. I’d also say that it is elitist to assume that disadvantaged kids could not possibly benefit by having access to great art in their backyard.Maybe if you’d engage in actual thinking instead of irrelevant stereotyping, you might at least realize that opponents are a diverse group that includes people who are just like you — except they have a different opinion on this matter.

  9. Lawrence Davis-Hollander says:

    Big deal. So some people support the sale. Are we supposed to take this as authority? 20 of the signatories don’t apparently live in the Berkshires. How many of these people really understand the legacy of this art or have the knowledge base to do so? Yes I know some of these people. Disappointing. But hey I know people who voted for Donald Trump. A future based on exploiting the past is not a foundation I would choose to build upon.
    We’ve heard the rationalizations. You’ll never convince me. You found money hanging on the museum walls and decided to take it because frankly it is the easy way and you lack a real sense of tradition and integrity. The paintings serve just as much if not more than whatever you think the museum should be doing next. All you who claim to be educators go educate yourselves about what the American 19th century landscape movement did.
    And we have plenty of education already available in our region.

    1. Carl Stewart says:

      This comment by Lawrence-Davis Hollander is almost too untethered to respond to, but not quite. Does not residing in the Berkshires disqualify a person from having an opinion? And on the flip side, is being a Berkshirite enough to give gravitas to
      your view? Does Mr Davis-Hollander limit his comments only to Berkshire issues? I’ll bet not

      1. Peter Dudek says:

        Carl, It has already been shown that the museum is not about to close anytime soon. Stop drinking the kool-aid. Please read all the articles in the Berkshire Eagle for real information.

      2. Peter Dudek says:

        If you had been paying attention to the attacks on the Stop Sale people you’d know that many of the pro-sale people have complained that many of the Stop Sale do not live in Pittsfield!

  10. Eric Korenman says:

    Thank you Berkshire Edge for balance and truth in reporting.
    After reading 18 years of inflammatory biased beagle reporting, I’ve finally canceled my subscription.

    1. Peter Dudek says:

      canceling your subscription? You think the Eagle is printing lies?

      1. Eric Korenman says:

        read it a bit closer Peter..
        I canceled my subscription to the biased BEAGLE (Berkshire Eagle)
        -Eric

    2. John Townes says:

      Um this isn’t reporting….It’s a letter to the editor….Same letter I think tbat ran in the biased Berkshire Eagle

  11. Eric Korenman says:

    my error – Yes I do. I know they do.

    1. Peter Dudek says:

      Classic circle the wagons mentality.

      1. Eric Korenman says:

        You oft-repeated criticism that we are “circling the wagons” again falls flat.
        I am not sure you fully understand what it means.
        “Circle the wagons” is an idiom that usually suggests that a group of people have to work together to protect themselves from some kind of external danger.”

        reference:
        http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-circle-the-wagons-mean.htm#didyouknowout

    2. Peter Dudek says:

      “usually”, but it also simply refers to a posture of resistance. Not open to others. But of course you choose your preferred definition.

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