Matthew Barney, Cremaster 3, production still
I don’t want to harp on the Brandeis shuttering of the Rose Art Museum and the PR statements university has been releasing, but I will. From an email I referenced last week sent by the office of Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz:
I would like to reiterate the point that has been made in public releases from the University, specifically that Brandeis is not lessening its commitment to the creative and visual arts. The Rose will be transitioned into a fine arts teaching center with studio space and an exhibition gallery, expanded facilities of which the University has had a long-term need and which directly benefit our students.
If the office had said something to the effect of, “Look, we know this is going to be a blow to the University and the arts program, so it’s really awful that we have to do this”, I would be more sympathetic to Brandeis’ financial woes. Instead, we’re being asked to swallow a deliberately misleading statement describing an arts teaching center as greater in value than a world renowned art collection. These are precisely the kinds of falsities that make people question the necessity of the deaccession in the first place. Muddy water tends not to be localized.
Meanwhile, Brandeis students certainly understand the lemon they’ve been served. From Roberta Smith’s great write up on the Rose yesterday in the Times:
At the museum on Friday, Aliza Sena, a 19-year-old sophomore, said that graduating seniors in art and art history were especially traumatized. “It's like the school telling them that their degree is fluff,” Ms. Sena said. She transferred this year from Tulane University after deciding that she wanted to major in art rather than business, and the Rose was a major factor in her choice.
“I'm devastated,” she said. “It's crushing to figure out this school's priorities, and sad that they can make a decision without consulting anyone knowledgeable. It really makes me reconsider being here.”
And well it should.