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Students sit-in to protest Rose closing

Published: January 30, 2009
Section: Front Page


MEET THE PRESS: Student sit-in against the closing of the Rose Art Museum draws national media attention.The closing of the Rose has been covered by the New York Times, Boston Globe, and other national outlets.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

MEET THE PRESS: Student sit-in against the closing of the Rose Art Museum draws national media attention.The closing of the Rose has been covered by the New York Times, Boston Globe, and other national outlets.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Hoot Photographic Gallery Links:
Images by Max Shay ’11/The Hoot
Images by Natasha Rubin ’11/The Hoot
Images by Yuan Yao ’11/The Hoot
Images by Amira Mintz-Morgenthau ’12/The Hoot
Images by Barbara Stark ’12/The Hoot

Long considered a “jewel in the crown of Brandeis,” the Rose Art Museum was flooded with over 100 members and supporters of the Brandeis community in an effort to protest the Board of trustee’s Monday night decision to close the museum and sell off all of the artwork this summer.

The crowd, which filled the entire upper gallery and staircase, was largely silent as Michael Rush, Director of the Museum spoke.

“The Rose is over,” he said. “History will judge Brandeis on this decision. As essential as the Rose is to the Brandeis community, it is bigger than Brandeis. The university has made a big, big mistake.”

Rush’s speech to the crowd kicked off a string of speeches by students, faculty and supporters of the museum who took advantage of an open microphone set up by the event’s organizers.

Sommerville resident and Brandeis Alumnae Carolyn Mellin ’80 heard about the sit-in in the newspaper.

Mellin, who graduated from the university with a BA in English Literature, said that as a student, she often went to the Rose Art Museum to learn about up and coming artists.

“This is a unique collection that is known around the entire country and the world, she said. “Selling it is a crime against the arts.”

Sit-in organizer Rebeccah Ulm ’11 said that she was appalled with the manner in which the decision to close the museum was made.

“We weren’t consulted in the first place,” she said. “This open mic is so that [university President] Jehuda [Reinharz] can hear that opinions matter and that what we think should be considered.”

Politics and Art History major Julia Sfverlazzo ’09 said to the audience that she is “sad that this is my alma mater because I didn’t believe this could happen here. We need to maintain our ideals even in a crisis.”

At a forum Wednesday, Reinharz spoke to students and answered questions regarding the closing of the Rose.

“We are not abandoning the arts,” he said.

Ulm, however, told the audience yesterday that she did not believe the president.

“This decision certainly made it feel like he’s abandoning us,” she said.

Rush did tell the audience that although he was saddened by the administration’s decision to close the museum, “there are no finer people to work with than [Provost] Marty Kraus and Jehudah Reinharz,” to which one woman shouted “that’s bullshit.”

Overall, however, the sentiment of the crowd gathered was sadness, not anger.

As the speakers died down, the crowd thinned out into the galleries of the Rose in an effort to pay homage to the artwork that would soon be forever out of their view.

83 year-old Newton resident Edwin Far said that he had heard about the closing of the Rose on television Wednesday evening.

While Farr has been an active member of the Brandeis Athletics department for years, he had never been inside the museum until yesterday, and had been unaware of the protest before he arrived.

“I’m impressed at how much stuff they have here,” he said. “So I’m going to go home tonight, think about what I’ve seen, and keep coming back until it’s not here.”

Later, Rose staff member Robin Dash led students in a poster-making effort, turning their anger over selling art into art itself.

By the end of the protest, over 30 posters lined the windows at the entrance of the museum.

“For sale,” one read. “Call Jehuda. 781-736-3001.”