John Hechinger of the Wall Street Journal reports today of Brandeis University’s decision to close its Rose Art Museum and sell more than 6,000 artworks from its collection. The University blames its decision on undisclosed endowment losses. A little reading between the lines tells me that some Madoff-related investments has something to do with the immediate crisis. This sucks.
My first job interview after graduation was at the Rose Art Museum. It has one of the top modern art collections and progressive programming in the country - mainly due to the generousity of its insightful and sophisticated donors. Any large museum in the world would covet its Warhols, de Koonings, Johnses, Lichtensteins and Rosenquists. It also has been busy acquiring today’s top artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, Nan Goldin, Alfredo Jaar, Donald Judd, Annette Lemieux, Robert Mangold, Judy Pfaff, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman and Kiki Smith. [sidenote: I didn’t get the job. Grrrr.]
Apparently, Brandies’ financial struggles have caused its leaders to regroup and narrow the University’s focus to a strictly educational mission. How does axing a university’s art museum help its mission to fully educate its student body? Here is the Rose Art Museum’s mission statement:
Founded in 1961, The Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University is an educational and cultural institution dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting the finest of modern and contemporary art. The programs of the Rose adhere to the overall mission of the University, embracing its values of academic excellence, social justice, and freedom of expression.
An active participant in the academic, cultural, and social life of Brandeis, the Rose seeks to stimulate public awareness and disseminate knowledge of modern and contemporary art to enrich educational, cultural, and artistic communities regionally, nationally, and internationally. The Rose affirms the principle that knowledge of the past informs an understanding of the present and provides the critical foundation for shaping the future. It promotes learning and understanding of the evolving meanings, ideas, and forms of visual art relevant to contemporary society.
To me, this sounds right in line with providing one of the cornerstones of education to any student enrolled there. I’ll chalk it up to just another example of the puny level of importance our educational "system" places on the arts. I predict plenty of lawsuits stemming from this shortsighted decision.