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Berkshire Museum’s ‘new vision’: Transform static museum galleries

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By Tuesday, Sep 12, 2017 Letters 8

To the editor:

The Berkshire Museum has been a staple of the community since opening our doors in 1903.

It is therefore natural that many members of the Berkshire community have expressed both support for and concerns about the sale of certain works of art.

The Museum’s Board of Trustees wanted to take this opportunity to share our views of the future and long-term goals that will ensure that our cherished institution will be able to enrich our community for at least another century. The reality is that our museum is facing a set of financial challenges that we must address, which requires making some difficult, and clearly, emotion-provoking decisions.

Importantly, our mission is unwavering. No matter what the future holds, the Berkshire Museum is focused on bringing people together for experiences that spark creativity and innovative thinking by making inspiring educational connections through art, history and natural science.

Our new vision

The new Berkshire Museum will break down traditional boundaries and explore the intersection between disparate disciplines. Our goal is to inspire curiosity and wonder — essential tools for learning, creativity and innovation. We will achieve this by integrating objects from the Museum’s collection with cutting-edge technologies, new interpretive techniques, and a fresh perspective that aims to extract contemporary relevance from historical artifacts. We will transform static museum galleries into active teaching laboratories — nurturing a 21st century learning experience — and we will extend our leadership position as the region’s authority on science and natural history.

Advancing community

We have been an integral member of the Berkshire community, helping our neighbors address critical issues pertaining to improving literacy, fostering early childhood development and kindergarten readiness, and offering activities during out-of-school time, boosting STEAM learning, and more. We are a leader in providing educational experiences through our school partnerships, which have reached nearly 29,000 school children in the last year. Continuing and deepening these partnerships and investing in the region and our children — our next generation of leaders — is a critical outcome for our New Vision Plan.

The Museum’s New Vision Plan aims to build a modern lasting institution that contributes to the future of learning as well as Pittsfield’s ongoing renaissance. We will continue to provide a contemporary view of the Berkshires, inspire local and global citizens, and present a diverse range of content.

A beacon of culture and learning, founder Zenas Crane’s “window on the world” will open a little wider.

The Berkshire Museum looks forward to paving the way forward and to the future of culture, learning, and community in Pittsfield and the greater Berkshire region.

To learn more about our New Vision plan, please visit www.berkshiremuseum.org/newvision.

The Berkshire Museum Board of Trustees


8 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Betsy Spears says:

    How is technology culture?

  2. Drs. Elaine and Fred Panitz says:

    “Deaccession” of significant art is contrary to what a community museum ought to do. Marketing and inspired fundraising is a better plan.

  3. John Townes says:

    While updating the museum and strengthening its financial position is a worthy goal, this plan is a potential disaster on many levels. This is trying to reinvent the wheel. ….And there are reasons it has c=been criticized by many in the wold of museums…..The museum could be sprruced up without an expensive “New Vision” as a video arcade. Why sell off the valuable works of art in its collection? If you look at the works on sale, it is amazing. Why not look for a better way to capitalize on that, such as expanding its display of art as a sattelite museum? That couldalso do a lot of the city’s revitalization….There are many ideas out there, but the museum staff and board should have a truly public process ands eek out ideas from experts and the general public.

  4. Darcie Sosa says:

    How exciting to be able to have such a great museum coming our way in Pittsfield!
    So grateful for Van and the Board’s vision and their ability to see the need for this in Pittsfield and the Berkshires.

  5. Phil Deely says:

    A small museum doesn’t require a 1x massive cash infusion…what Texans call a $10 saddle on a $5 horse. An incremental, transparent approach is what was called for. Sadly the board has chosen maintaining a united front over a willingness to rein in a project that is overblown and poorly articulated.

  6. Linda says:

    It appears you have been misguided by your director, attorney, and at lease some of your trustees! How much pressure did it take to get enough votes to do this dirty deed? You should all be ashamed to show your faces! This is a total travesty. I am sickened by your “New Focus.” Pack up and get out and let someone who knows how to run a museum take over! You are all incompetent from what I can see!

  7. Carol Diehl says:

    I was just watching a video by a museum education expert about the role of museums today and she talks extensively about community-building and addressing the community’s issues and needs. Clearly dividing the community was not in the original plan, but now that it’s happened, what steps can the Museum take to bring everyone together? A community that is united in supporting the museum is more important than fancy bells, touch-screens, and whistles. Quite a few experts have now examined the financials and concluded that the Museum does not need a $40M endowment to keep functioning. Enough money has been offered toward any liability with Sotheby’s that the Museum can now afford to PAUSE and REGROUP, and put community-building as its first goal. Now that the community is aware of the need and has expressed, on all sides, how important the Museum is to all of us, plus new national awareness, fund-raising possibilities have quadrupled, if not more. I urge the Museum to seize the moment and unite the community in its support.

  8. Lawrence Davis-Hollander says:

    Static. There you go. What a judgement. Do you know anything about the effect of a great or simply beautiful painting? Do you understand the effect that our Hudson River genre of paintings had on 19th century people and still today? Static my ass! These paintings not only helped to develop and shift people’s view of nature but help create that unique American institution of National Parks. They helped give us a soul connection to nature and serve as a vehicle for our own transport and transformation if only in the moment. No really it’s very simple. Instead of having a real solution for funding it’s future the Board and Director simply saw these paintings as money dripping off the walls. There is no vision because they cannot see the past. And do not understand the locomotion provided by these static galleries.

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