Berkshire Museum Plan To Sell Norman Rockwell Paintings Has Art World Up In Arms : The Two-Way : NPR

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass., announced it would sell 40 works to fund its renovation and endowment, raising concerns from museum organizations that the instiution is treating its collection “as a disposable financial asset.” Above, an exhibit at the museum in 2003.

Alan Solomon/AP


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Alan Solomon/AP

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass., announced it would sell 40 works to fund its renovation and endowment, raising concerns from museum organizations that the instiution is treating its collection “as a disposable financial asset.” Above, an exhibit at the museum in 2003.

Alan Solomon/AP

A museum in Western Massachusettts has found itself as the focus of a recurrent discussion in the art world: Is it ever okay for a museum to sell some of its works for financial reasons?

For Van Shields, executive director of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, the answer is a firm yes.

In a press release, the museum outlined a funding strategy for a “reinvention plan” in which it has “a heightened emphasis on science and history as well as the arts.” The museum wants to raise $60 million to carry out its new vision: $40 million to add to its endowment, and $20 million to renovate its building.

It plans to raise those funds by selling 40 works from the museum’s collection, pieces which have been deemed “no longer essential to the Museum’s new interdisciplinary programs.” Among the art earmarked for sale are works by Norman Rockwell, Alexander Calder, Albert Bierstadt, and George…

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