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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Rose supporters question legitimacy of committee

Published: April 24, 2009
Section: Front Page

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Director of Brandeis’ Rose Art Museum Michael Rush announced that he did not recognize the univearsity’s Committee for the Future of the Rose as legitimate at a town hall discussion about the future of the Rose yesterday evening.

“I do not recognize you as a legitimate committee [because] this supposed attempt at openness and dialogue is only happening because of the disaster that was Jan. 26 and the international outcry that followed,” he said.

The committee was created in March with the charge of “exploring options” for the future of the Rose in response to the media storm the university faced when they announced they would be closing the museum on Jan. 26.

The town hall meeting last evening came after university Provost Marty Krauss’ announcement on Friday that the museum would remain open through the summer. In order to remain open, the current exhibit at the Rose will be extended until May 17 and another exhibit of the museum’s permanent collection will open on July 22.

Only three of the six current Rose staff members will stay on at the Rose, not including the Museum Director Rush, or the Educational Director.

Rush told the committee, “this is not openness for openness’ sake. This committee was founded in the scuttle in the aftermath of that disaster,” he said.

Rush added that on Jan. 26, both he and the Rose staff were only informed of the decision to close the Rose one-hour before the university sent out a press release to the larger community. Similarly, he said, his staff only heard about the new “interim” state of the Rose over the summer one hour before Krauss sent an e-mail to the Brandeis community.

“This is total repetition for us and our staff,” he said.

Rose Family member Meryl Rose agreed with Rush and asked the audience of about 70 community members and 10 committee members if “nothing was wrong with the Rose before Jan. 26, why do you feel the need to change it now?”

“Why don’t you try and undo the damage you have done and renew the contract with the museum’s director?” she continued.

Rose added that because the museum has no money coming in and all fundraising efforts have been halted, the museum is in effect “dead.”

“A museum is supposed to be a living breathing thing with art being exchanged all of the time,” she said. “This is a slow death that has already started. The museum will turn into a warehouse for old art just as soon as May 17 rolls around.”

While Provost Krauss later explained that it is natural for the museum to have periods between exhibits with no special exhibits, Rush later told the Waltham Daily News Tribune that traditionally, these periods last “for no longer than three weeks” as opposed to the scheduled period of over two months.

Since Krauss’ announcement about the interim state of the Rose, the museum has issued an official statement on its website accusing the university of participating only in “bare bones protection of the museum.”

University Board of Trustee Member Meyer Koplow, who has been working closely with the Provost’s office, told the audience last night that “this is not the first time the Rose has operated under restrictions.”

Prof. Mark Auslander (ANTH) told the committee that deciding what a museum needs “is not something you can take a vote or survey about.”

“There are certain standards for what a museum consists of that are beyond debate,” he said. “If the university wants to show that they are committed to the arts, they must adhere to these standards.”

He continued to say that if the university does not show their commitment to the arts, the results could dramatically weaken the university’s reputation in the art world.

The town hall meeting yesterday was just one day before Brandeis’ four day long Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts is scheduled to kick off.

Though the festival has not traditionally been given any other name for advertising purposes, this year the festival has been named “Art is Happening.”