Monday, March 16, 2009

What is the Rose family saying?

The Rose family issued a statement this evening objecting to Brandeis’s leaders plans to shutter the Rose Art Museum and pawn its collection. (They were scheduled to speak publicly at the museum tonight – but I couldn’t make the event.) Three things stand out in their statement (entire text here):

1. It calls out the Brandeis administration for – to paraphrase – being full of shit. It notes how administrators like (the unnamed) President Jehuda Reinharz are playing semantic games when Reinharz seemed to backpedal on Feb. 5 by saying “the museum will remain open,” but the details of the plan seemed not to have changed one wit. The Roses state: “Any other understanding of the university’s current plan is disinformation.”

2. It makes clear that if things go forward as Brandeis leaders plan, museum staff will be laid off and exhibits will cease this summer – a de facto closing of the museum, whatever Brandeis leaders (and their crisis management public relations firm) decide to call it.

3. It proposes a way forward by calling for Brandeis to renew the contracts of museum staff, install a new show after the Hans Hofmann exhibit comes down in May, promise not to sell any Rose art, and to “honor the donors’ intentions” by maintaining the Rose as a public art museum.

Item 3 is a good roadmap for beginning to regain the trust of donors whose support is vital for continued operations of the museum – but I’d add one more step. Brandeis leaders have shown themselves to be both incompetent and untrustworthy (see item 1) in their handling of this situation. The school requires new leaders in its administration and board before their error can fully heal.

Dec. 23: Rose freezes curator search
Jan. 26: Brandeis to close Rose
Jan. 27: Update: Brandeis to close Rose, sell art
Jan. 27: Brandeis president’s e-mail on Rose
Jan. 27: Brandeis’s money
Jan. 27: AG on Brandeis's plans
Jan. 29: Brandeis’s liquidator-in-chief
Jan. 29: The first painting Brandeis should pawn
Jan. 29: Question: Brandeis financial management?
Feb. 5: Brandeis won’t close Rose?
Feb. 5: Will defunct Rose replace defunct Safra Center plan?
Feb. 9: Open discussion at the Rose tomorrow
Feb. 11: How do you solve Brandeis’s budget crisis?
March 16: Rose family objects to closing Rose museum


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