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Brandeis University Resolves Rose Art Museum Lawsuit

Museum to Observe Its 50th Year

By: Charles Giuliano - Jun 30, 2011

The long and contentious saga over the fate of the Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University has come to a resolution.

The prior president of the university, Jehuda Reinharz, in the face of a fiscal crisis, convinced the Board of Trustees to close the museum, even though it was self sustaining, and sell key works from a distinguished collection of modern and contemporary art estimated to be worth some $350 million.

The director of the museum, Michael Rush, left the museum which has been run by a temporary staff. It is speculated that the museum will seek a new director and curatorial, installation staff.

The Rose Art Museum is about  to observe its 50th year and now under better circumstances.

The vulgarian assault on the museum by Reinharz and the university administration was deeply offensive to alumni, students, faculty, donors and the larger art world.

As a Brandeis graduate, Class of 1963, had the university stuck with its plan to dismantle the Rose, I vowed never to set foot on the campus. I was among those who donated works to the permanent collection. It is likely that the aggressive actions of the university have cost the Rose millions in potential donations and contributions to the permanent collection.

A significant number of alumni are artists and collectors of note.

It is likely that the stigma and damage to the reputation of the Rose will last for more than a generation.

In the fifty years since it was founded the Rose has been regarded as the foremost collection of modern and contemporary art in the region. Its holdings in this category have greater depth and value than those of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. The Institute of Contemporary Art has only recently decided to form a permanent collection and lacks adequate space to display and store what it acquires.

Since the intentions of Reinharz were first learned we have covered the story. Including a series of interviews with the former director Carl Belz. We are also about to post an extended dialogue with Denise Markonish, a curator for Mass MoCA, and Brandeis alumna who trained under Belz at the Rose.

What appears below is a letter sent by the current Brandeis president, Fred Lawrence, in which he reports on the status of the Rose Art Museum.

Dear members of the Brandeis community,

iI am very pleased to inform you that Brandeis and the four plaintiffs involved in the Rose Art Museum litigation have reached an agreement to settle the case. As a result, their claims have been dismissed. In addition, the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has officially terminated its review of Brandeis.

The agreement emphasizes that the Rose is and will remain a university art museum open to the public and that Brandeis has no plan to sell artwork. This position reflects the Board of Trustees’ adoption of the two key recommendations of The Future of The Rose Committee Report in March 2010.

We have posted a news release on BrandeisNOW, so you will be aware of our public stance. I want to thank you for your support as we close this chapter and focus on the University’s future and the many opportunities before us -- including the Rose’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Best wishes,

Fred