Friday, June 12, 2009

Brandeis Decision: "A Four in the Morning Kind of Idea"

Today, ArtTactic posted an interview with the chair of The Rose Art Museum's Board of Directors, Jonathan Lee, available via podcast.

Lee describes the origianal decision by Brandeis University President to close The Rose and deaccession its art collection a "four in the morning kind of idea." Along with this tasty treat, Lee believes that even though dire economic situations "come and go," public policy dictates that cultural assets should not be turned into cash.

When asked if there are any situations in which selling of artworks by a museum are warranted, Lee retreats into a familiar emotional response lacking any substantive rationale. "It's not allowed in the museum world" and "it goes against the ethics of the art museum world," and "as soon as they sell one of these paintings and scoop the cash they will be shuned" pretty much sum up his reasoning (and this coming from a lawyer).

In a moment of sweet irony, The New York Times reported today that Brandeis University "said this week that it would suspend payments to the retirement accounts of faculty and staff members starting in July."

While universities across the country have taken a wide range of actions to confront their financial problems, including layoffs and the suspension of capital projects, freezing contributions to retirement accounts is rare. Financially troubled corporations have been taking such action, but faculty and staff members at colleges and universities have traditionally enjoyed stable, and generous, benefits — and expect no less.

Well, perhaps no retirement account, but at least the faculty and staff will have an art collection!

1 comment:

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