Culture, Justice, Politics

Art Objects

The saga of the Rose Museum at Brandeis continues today, as the Rose Family makes a public statement that can be summed up in the two-word refrain peppered throughout their two-page document: We Object.
The family’s objects are surprisingly measured. They point out that the University is going forward on a certain path despite ongoing deliberation in the courts about whether that path is legal. Although the family is clear that, in their view, “the museum is not closing. The art is not for sale,” at the very least, they are demanding that the museum stays open and fully staffed until the Attorney General (“or any court”) makes a ruling. They point out that they endowed three funds specifically set up for the ongoing operation of the museum. This isn’t simply rebudgeting on the part of the university, this is a massive repurposing of money that had a clear and distinct purpose.
I’m of two minds on this particular showdown. On the one hand, I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of the arts, and in particular the importance of the arts in academia. On the other hand, if the university is really fighting for its life, President Reinharz needs to be the mama bear who will do anything for her cubs. Ultimately, though, the Rose family is right in criticizing the university for moving forward without seeking the permission of the proper channels.
With so many members of the family alive and objecting, I’d imagine Reinharz will have a difficult time convincing the AG to unlock these funds. But whether he likes it or not, that’s part of the bargain in accepting targeted donations.

One thought on “Art Objects

  1. I actually think about this a lot. A friend of mine got a free ride at Louisiana State University because he took a virtually unwanted endowed scholarship which required him to major in poultry science. His passion is poli sci, so he double-majored and got it paid with a scholarship from a dead chicken industries pioneer. For eternity, that scholarship will exist.
    People can die and endow tons of money to pointless causes. Or causes that are no longer important. Or causes that are still relevant but the trust mandates an outdated strategy. That money is locked away. As much as I like the ability to endow something of importance, I do think that the rules need to be loosened. How much pointless crap is kept going not because it’s relevant or important but because someone, quite possibly eccentric and off their rocker, ages ago (10, 50, 100 years ago) decided it was.
    I also think the art — lovely as it is — should be sacrificed if Brandeis needs it to.

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