The New York Times website updates frequently, and items get pushed off the main page about as quickly as they’re put on, but right now the lead story is about our beloved Rose museum. Here is a link. Click it.
It’s now fairly clear that if we go through with this, we will destroy our reputation in the art world forever. Nobody who seriously cares about art will have anything but sheer contempt for our University. Now, I’m still undecided on the issue, and perhaps sacrificing the respect of the art community is the price we have to pay. But if we think we can pull of such a brash move with no consequences from the outside world, we’re deluding ourselves.The most interesting thing about the Times article (which is generally a well-done, comprehensive piece) is that there could be extensive legal problems. We suspected this, but the attorney general’s office has confirmed that the process is expected to be “lengthy”:
“…the attorney general would review wills and agreements made between the museum and the estates of donors to determine if selling artworks violated the terms of donations. “We have not yet offered any opinion on any aspect of the proposed sales,” she said, adding, “We do expect this to be a lengthy process.”Dennis Nealon, a spokesman for the university, said it would have no comment on any legal questions related to the proposed closing and the sale of the art… In 2005 Fisk University in Nashville moved to sell paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley to bolster its finances, but was blocked from doing so by a court that determined that the sale would violate the terms of O’Keeffe’s gift of the two works to the institution. Fisk has appealed. In 2007, Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va., sold a Rufino Tamayo painting and proposed selling three other works to raise money for its endowment. The museum’s director, Karol Lawson, compared the experience to a mugging and resigned.”