There was another wrinkle today in the ongoing crisis of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis. Brandeis administrators originally announced plans to close the museum and sell work from its collection to help close a shortfall in the university’s general operating budget. Then they back pedaled and said they would transform it into a study center and might not sell any work. But they still planned no exhibitions after this spring. But today Brandeis provost Marty Wyngaarden Krauss issued a statement that the current exhibitions at the Rose would be extended through May 17, after which the museum will close briefly, then re-open to the public on July 22 under the direction of three staffers and with a selection of works from the permanent collection.
So long as the Rose remains open as a museum, it remains subject to the ethical guidelines of American museum groups that do what they can to discourage the kind of emergency sales that Brandeis is contemplating. But I spoke later with Michael Rush, the director of the Rose, who will soon be gone, along with several other significant Rose staffers. He was skeptical about what the university was doing. “They’re talking about keeping the Rose open,” he said. “But there’s no director, no curator, no education director, no funding stream and no program.”
After a faculty uproar earlier this year and accusations that Brandeis administrators were acting single handedly on a matter of campus wide concern, a Committee for the Future of the Rose was formed to consider options for the museum and submit a report. The Massachusetts state attorney general’s office is also looking into the University’s plans for the museum.
UPDATE: In response to the University’s announcement this morning that it would keep the Rose open this summer, Jon Lee, chairman of the museum’s Board of Overseers, sent this message today to his board:
Today you received a letter from Provost Marty Krauss that was also sent to the entire Brandeis community regarding the future of the Rose. What she doesn’t mention is that the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office has insisted that Brandeis maintain the Rose Art Museum on some minimal status quo basis. The content of the Provost’s letter is regarded as the bare bones protection of the museum. The AG’s office is closely watching the situation at the Rose and you can be sure that the office will weigh in if and when the University decides to pursue the sale of art, which the Provost’s letter does not address. The University has repeatedly said that it does intend to sell some art, which, in itself, is a modified version of their initial intention to “sell the collection.”
Please be aware that Director Michael Rush and administrator Jay Knox
have not been asked to remain and their jobs will terminate in June.
Education Director Emily Mello was asked to stay but she declined. Thus, the Rose has no Director, no curator, no education director, no
administrator, no funding stream and no program. Exhibitions close on
May 17th. The Provost says samplings of the permanent collection will
go on view beginning July 22. Curated by whom we do not know.
I suggest we maintain our scheduled May meeting (May 12) in New York. We need to decide as a group what our response is to these developments. Indeed we need to address our very future and viability. Just as before, when the January 26th decision was made to close the museum, we have not been consulted on this latest decision to “keep it open” in the unacceptable and diminished way that it is.