Brandeis University to Close Rose Art Museum

by Art Fag City on January 27, 2009 · 31 comments Newswire


Paper Trail II: Passing Through Clouds. Image via: The Rose Museum

In the name of economic hardship Brandeis University announced Monday it will close its Rose Art Museum and sell off its collection. An internationally renown museum, the 8,000 object collection includes work by such contemporary stars as Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, and Nan Goldin, and Post-War masters including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Nam June Paik. Closing the universities budget deficit, which is said to be upwards of 10 million dollars was cited as the rationale behind the decision.

To say that these decisions raise a few questions seems an understatement at best.   For one, the Brandeis Museum has relatively small budget concerns compared to other Universities.   Cornell for example has seen its endowment drop 27% in the last six months and is now pulling $150 million from their reserves.   Also, it has to be noted that the sale of just one major work in the collection, (the nearly 6 foot tall early Lichtenstein or the Rauschenberg Combine currently on display for example),  would return enough money to close the gap the University has disclosed.   It’s possible however, that like many other institutionally run museums,  is contractually obligated to funnel that money back into the collection, which would explain at least one small aspect of that decision.

This sort of short sighted economic problem solving represents a problem to any university, but it’s particularly acute in the case of the Rose Museum, given its stature.  Painter Dana Schutz’ first museum solo show, for example, was mounted there in 2006 and ran concurrently with a Matthew Barney exhibited.  Major shows by John Armleder in 2007 and Fred Tomaselli in 2005 have occurred within recent years, and amongst the historical highlights, Joseph Cornell had a solo show at the Rose in 1968, and received an award from Brandeis.

Shedding no light on the motivations behind this decision, University President Jehuda Reinharz made the following statement to The Boston Globe,

“This is not a happy day in the history of Brandeis,” President Jehuda Reinharz said tonight. “The Rose is a jewel. But for the most part it's a hidden jewel. It does not have great foot traffic and most of the great works we have, we are just not able to exhibit. We felt that, at this point given the recession and the financial crisis, we had no choice.”

But even if foot traffic were a measure of success, as 16 Miles of String points out, it’s hard to believe the museum receives any less than many other departments.  Also, since when does any museum exhibit all the great works they have?  Jerry Saltz just wrote an article about why recessions are a great time to show off works in museum collections infrequently shown.   Could the university not just cut costs at the museum rather than liquidating “nearly half a century of public trust?”

Read Greg Cook, for the most detailed report I’ve read thus far (thanks MAN!).

Update: Geoff Edgers in this morning’s Boston Globe has more on the story.

Update: Greg Cook reports the State Attorney General’s office has not signed off on the sale.

  • http://beavercitywillrockyou.blogspot.com castor de luxe

    i am troubled by the entire notion that “foot traffic” should be the marker of an institution’s worth. i am more troubled that the administration believes that the works of art in the collection are disposable. hopefully the students and various friends of the arts at brandeis will actively protest the closing. i would also hope that an impassioned response from studio art and art history faculty who teach there will be forthcoming.

  • http://beavercitywillrockyou.blogspot.com castor de luxe

    i am troubled by the entire notion that “foot traffic” should be the marker of an institution’s worth. i am more troubled that the administration believes that the works of art in the collection are disposable. hopefully the students and various friends of the arts at brandeis will actively protest the closing. i would also hope that an impassioned response from studio art and art history faculty who teach there will be forthcoming.

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  • http://beavercitywillrockyou.blogspot.com castor de luxe

    for people in the boston area, a sit in is planned for this thursday at 1pm in the museum:
    http://innermostparts.org/2009/01/27/reaction-to-the-rose-art-decision/

  • http://beavercitywillrockyou.blogspot.com castor de luxe

    for people in the boston area, a sit in is planned for this thursday at 1pm in the museum:
    http://innermostparts.org/2009/01/27/reaction-to-the-rose-art-decision/

  • http://beavercitywillrockyou.blogspot.com castor de luxe

    for people in the boston area, a sit in is planned for this thursday at 1pm in the museum:
    http://innermostparts.org/2009/01/27/reaction-to-the-rose-art-decision/

  • http://beavercitywillrockyou.blogspot.com castor de luxe

    for people in the boston area, a sit in is planned for this thursday at 1pm in the museum:
    http://innermostparts.org/2009/01/27/reaction-to-the-rose-art-decision/

  • http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/in-opposition-to-the-closing-of-the-rose-art-museum fibiscs

    one thing that upsets me as a cultural production student here at Brandeis University is that we are losing a great asset to the Brandeis community. and the fact that the Rose has the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in the Northeast just demonstrates the importance of keeping the collection together to benefit more people and use it as a educational tool for future generations. To me it is an embarrasment to the school. Also the fact that the director of the Museum had no say or imput into the decision just makes it even more infuriating. please sign the online petition against this decision at the website above
    thanks concerned student

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/in-opposition-to-the-closing-of-the-rose-art-museum

  • http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/in-opposition-to-the-closing-of-the-rose-art-museum fibiscs

    one thing that upsets me as a cultural production student here at Brandeis University is that we are losing a great asset to the Brandeis community. and the fact that the Rose has the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in the Northeast just demonstrates the importance of keeping the collection together to benefit more people and use it as a educational tool for future generations. To me it is an embarrasment to the school. Also the fact that the director of the Museum had no say or imput into the decision just makes it even more infuriating. please sign the online petition against this decision at the website above
    thanks concerned student

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/in-opposition-to-the-closing-of-the-rose-art-museum

  • http://www.saulchernick.com Saul Chernick

    Wow, this is incredibly sad. The reasons stated for closing up shop don’t really add up. I feel like this story is just beginning, there’s got to be more behind this seemingly insane decision.

  • http://www.saulchernick.com Saul Chernick

    Wow, this is incredibly sad. The reasons stated for closing up shop don’t really add up. I feel like this story is just beginning, there’s got to be more behind this seemingly insane decision.

  • http://www.saulchernick.com Saul Chernick

    Wow, this is incredibly sad. The reasons stated for closing up shop don’t really add up. I feel like this story is just beginning, there’s got to be more behind this seemingly insane decision.

  • http://www.saulchernick.com Saul Chernick

    Wow, this is incredibly sad. The reasons stated for closing up shop don’t really add up. I feel like this story is just beginning, there’s got to be more behind this seemingly insane decision.

  • http://www.lightstalkers.org/aij Ari

    Come join our group on facebook: Artists Against Brandeis Art Liquidation

    We are having a mail-art protest. Take it to the man! Make a small art piece that can be mailed and send it to the President Jehuda Reinharz.

    We have set up a Flickr group page to post your artwork. Document the adventure!
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1038905@N22/

    -Ari

  • http://www.lightstalkers.org/aij Ari

    Come join our group on facebook: Artists Against Brandeis Art Liquidation

    We are having a mail-art protest. Take it to the man! Make a small art piece that can be mailed and send it to the President Jehuda Reinharz.

    We have set up a Flickr group page to post your artwork. Document the adventure!
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1038905@N22/

    -Ari

  • http://www.lightstalkers.org/aij Ari

    Come join our group on facebook: Artists Against Brandeis Art Liquidation

    We are having a mail-art protest. Take it to the man! Make a small art piece that can be mailed and send it to the President Jehuda Reinharz.

    We have set up a Flickr group page to post your artwork. Document the adventure!
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1038905@N22/

    -Ari

  • http://www.lightstalkers.org/aij Ari

    Come join our group on facebook: Artists Against Brandeis Art Liquidation

    We are having a mail-art protest. Take it to the man! Make a small art piece that can be mailed and send it to the President Jehuda Reinharz.

    We have set up a Flickr group page to post your artwork. Document the adventure!
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1038905@N22/

    -Ari

  • http://www.lightstalkers.org/aij Ari

    Come join our group on facebook: Artists Against Brandeis Art Liquidation

    We are having a mail-art protest. Take it to the man! Make a small art piece that can be mailed and send it to the President Jehuda Reinharz.

    We have set up a Flickr group page to post your artwork. Document the adventure!
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1038905@N22/

    -Ari

  • http://www.mysculpturesgallery.com/blogs/ Christine

    That is very sad. The thought that a place of learning and culture would chose to liquidate such a huge collection not as a last resort seems very strange to me.

  • http://www.mysculpturesgallery.com/blogs/ Christine

    That is very sad. The thought that a place of learning and culture would chose to liquidate such a huge collection not as a last resort seems very strange to me.

  • http://www.mysculpturesgallery.com/blogs/ Christine

    That is very sad. The thought that a place of learning and culture would chose to liquidate such a huge collection not as a last resort seems very strange to me.

  • http://www.mysculpturesgallery.com/blogs/ Christine

    That is very sad. The thought that a place of learning and culture would chose to liquidate such a huge collection not as a last resort seems very strange to me.

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  • eleanor chernick

    Both my son, Robert, and his daughter, Karen, are alumni of Brandeis U.
    We are all shocked at the thought of closing the Rose Art Museum there.
    This will certainly alter my contributions to the school in the future.
    Eleanor Cheernick, Ed.D.

  • http://elliechernick@yahoo.com eleanor chernick

    Both my son, Robert, and his daughter, Karen, are alumni of Brandeis U.
    We are all shocked at the thought of closing the Rose Art Museum there.
    This will certainly alter my contributions to the school in the future.
    Eleanor Cheernick, Ed.D.

  • http://www.castagnastudio.com Robert Castagna

    The selling off of art at Brandeis is symbolic of what is wrong with America. Hopefully the economy starts to turn around and Brandeis can use this infamy and media attention to bring about a resurgence of interest in art in their environment.
    Check out the photomontage dedicated to the Rose at http://www.castagnstudio.com.

  • http://www.castagnastudio.com Robert Castagna

    The selling off of art at Brandeis is symbolic of what is wrong with America. Hopefully the economy starts to turn around and Brandeis can use this infamy and media attention to bring about a resurgence of interest in art in their environment.
    Check out the photomontage dedicated to the Rose at http://www.castagnstudio.com.

  • http://www.castagnastudio.com Robert Castagna

    The selling off of art at Brandeis is symbolic of what is wrong with America. Hopefully the economy starts to turn around and Brandeis can use this infamy and media attention to bring about a resurgence of interest in art in their environment.
    Check out the photomontage dedicated to the Rose at http://www.castagnstudio.com.

  • http://www.castagnastudio.com Robert Castagna

    The selling off of art at Brandeis is symbolic of what is wrong with America. Hopefully the economy starts to turn around and Brandeis can use this infamy and media attention to bring about a resurgence of interest in art in their environment.
    Check out the photomontage dedicated to the Rose at http://www.castagnstudio.com.

  • http://www.castagnastudio.com Robert Castagna

    The selling off of art at Brandeis is symbolic of what is wrong with America. Hopefully the economy starts to turn around and Brandeis can use this infamy and media attention to bring about a resurgence of interest in art in their environment.
    Check out the photomontage dedicated to the Rose at http://www.castagnstudio.com.

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