Looks like the legal dispute over the Rose Museum is about to get really ugly. This January, Brandeis University announced it would shutter the Rose Museum and sell its holdings in order to bridge a serious budget short fall. Now, in response to the Rose Museum’s overseers’ recent suit against Brandeis, the university seeks dismissal of the claim. As blogger Greg Cook reports, Brandeis’ motion begins with the following claim.
This case is about an attempt, by three members of an advisory board to a university art museum, to take exclusive control of the entire collection of that museum for their own personal objectives…
Having interviewed overseer Meryl Rose for Art in America earlier this year, I know their “personal objectives” are simply to preserve and grow the art museum, though this legalese makes it seem as though there’s something much more sinister behind their actions. Let’s not forget that had the University not issued an intent to close the museum and sell its holdings in January, this suit would not exist.
It should be noted that after a deafening public outcry the University made claims it would not close the museum. But The Rose no longer has a director and loans and donations have all but stopped, so it seems unlikely at best that their regular programming will be maintained. Notably, Cook also reports that yesterday’s Brandeis motion claims, that museum ethical codes “do not apply to it.”
Additionally, Brandeis claims that the overseers have no standing to represent the public interest. From Greg Cook:
The motion downplays the three overseers’ connections to Brandeis and the Rose, going so far as to note that Foster's late husband “Henry Foster gave substantial sums to Brandeis and the Rose, and he alone signed most of the instruments of gift”; that it was Lee's late mother who made substantial gifts to the museum not him; and that Meryl Rose is not related to the Roses whose donations helped found the Rose Art Museum — um, except by marriage.
I can’t imagine a rebuttal more likely to infuriate its recipients than this one.