Return of artwork could lead to sustainable future for Berkshire Museum

To the Editor:

Save the Art — Save the Museum is encouraged that the museum has agreed to engage in conversation with the Attorney General on the return of the 40 artworks to the Berkshires. We concur with the AG’s assertion that the artworks are subject to restrictions. We look forward to a resolution to the impasse that restores the collection to the community and reaffirm our willingness to work with museum officials to secure the museum’s future.

Save the Art – Save the Museum supports all legal actions and investigations of the Berkshire Museum’s proposed sale of 40 artworks and seeks their return. We reaffirm our group’s desire to assist the Museum in finding an alternative to address its fiscal issues while preserving the Museum’s vital regional identity. Save the Art will continue to work to protect the public trust and ensure public access to artistic and historic treasures.

The Berkshire Museum’s actions have sparked a national debate. As part of our ongoing public information efforts, we offer our support to other communities throughout the country who are experiencing similar challenges raised by de-accession and violations to the public trust. In the Commonwealth, we are working with the Massachusetts Cultural Council to explore the creation of “The Rockwell Law,” legislation that would protect our cultural heritage from unethical de-accession practices by publicly funded institutions and charitable organizations.

Save the Art – Save the Museum seeks the following:

  1. The return of all 40 artworks to their rightful owners: Pittsfield and the greater Berkshire community.
  2. A pledge from the Berkshire Museum trustees to respect and abide by ethical guidelines set forth by the American Alliance of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, and other professional organizations.
  3. A public promise for fiscal transparency from Museum officials.
  4. The Museum’s commitment to the vigorous fundraising and creative programming activities that sustain all cultural non-profits.

By adopting these conditions, the Berkshire Museum will find many friends willing to help build a successful and sustainable future. There is courage and wisdom in changing course in light of altered circumstances. Save the Art – Save the Museum stands ready to assist to the full extent of our knowledge, expertise, and ability, and we extend our hand in the spirit of dialogue, cooperation, and good will.

Carol Diehl