Thursday, April 19, 2018

"The Berkshire Museum saga is headed toward a happy ending"

The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby (seen earlier here) cheers the outcome of the Berkshire Museum dispute, saying "it looks as though the Berkshire will weather the storm and remain a lively presence in Pittsfield for years to come" and adding: "Yet the art snobs seem, if anything, even more outraged."

Deaccession Police Captain Christopher Knight (who had been singled out in Jacoby's earlier column on the subject) responds on Twitter:  "Calling art lovers 'snobs' is a familiar redoubt for the ignorant."

To which Jacoby responds:  "Your advice for the Berkshire Museum, Christopher Knight, was that it close down & be cannibalized by other museums. The pain that would cause Pittsfield you shrugged off: 'If its community cannot sustain the museum, not much can be done.' I'd say 'snobs' is putting it mildly."

Here's a link to the Knight column in question (which I discussed earlier here), which includes the following:

"Here's an idea: Don't sell the art. Do close the museum.

"Start behaving like the charitable institution you are supposed to be. Spend the next several years responsibly overseeing the dispersal of the collection.

"Donate the art to other museums that would benefit most from having it. ... Because the state gives the Berkshire Museum a subsidy through tax breaks, in addition to its federal one, Massachusetts has a priority stake; so its many other museums should get the first (but not the only) consideration for gifts.

"Shields [the museum's director] has said that, without the sale, the institution can't survive beyond the next eight years. That affords plenty of time to unwind the Berkshire Museum, an honorable task at least as hard as conceiving a last-ditch overhaul with no guarantee of success.

"Drastic, I know. And a sad loss for Pittsfield. It would be a psychic blow to a city that still struggles economically.

"But the hard truth is that if its community cannot sustain the museum, not much can be done."