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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

At The Rose, it’s business as usual

Published: October 16, 2009
Section: Front Page

MOUNTING MASTERPIECES: A Rose Art preparateur hangs a painting in anticipation of the museum’s exhibit, which will open Oct. 28 at 6 p.m.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

MOUNTING MASTERPIECES: A Rose Art preparateur hangs a painting in anticipation of the museum’s exhibit, which will open Oct. 28 at 6 p.m.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Two museum preparateurs folded a giant plastic tarp while another swept sawdust from the floor of the Lois Foster Gallery of the Rose Art Museum, as soft country music played from a radio in the corner, its twang bouncing off the high ceiling of the room.

They had just finished constructing a temporary wall in the center of the gallery to divide the room into four sections for the museum’s exhibition of its permanent collection, which will open Oct. 28 and last throughout the school year.

While this week has been one that is full of speculation about how the attorney general’s investigation into the university and the denial of the university’s motion to suppress a lawsuit concerning the Rose Art Museum could affect the museum’s operation, at the museum itself, this week has been business as usual.

“We’re certainly following the suit very closely,” Director of Museum Operations Roy Dawes said, “but this motion and the legal stuff doesn’t affect our operations, and it doesn’t affect the exhibit.”

Dawes stood on the upper floor of The Rose gallery, looking into the Foster gallery, overseeing his preparateur team, surrounded by paintings leaning up against blank walls and waiting for the paintings to be hung.

He was waiting to hang the paintings–including a Warhol and a Chagall, among others — until next week, when Adelina Jedrzejczak, co-curator of the exhibit would arrive from London and help finalize the list of art to be shown.

The exhibit, which opens on Oct. 28 at 6 p.m, will be divided into six sections, similar to the six chapters of the recently released The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis, a catalogue of the museum’s permanent collection.

<i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Though it is proceeding with its exhibit, the museum has not been unchanged by the legal battle that looms over the future of its collection this summer.

As Dawes walked down the stairs to the lower floor of the Rose Gallery where the museum will showcase its vast photography collection, he looked at the wall.

“We were thinking of making this a timeline of the history of the museum and the collection so people knew where all this great art came from,” he said, “but then we’d have to get into the whole controversy, so I don’t know about that.”

This exhibit is the first time that all three galleries of the museum will be used to exhibit only pieces from the permanent collection — in part because the university has ordered it to do so, but also because “this collection doesn’t get shown enough.”

“There’s a lot of curiosity about what we have here,” Dawes said.

In addition, while the museum typically has three exhibits per year, the exhibition of the permanent collection will last through May, though Dawes said he will rotate the artwork in the exhibit so as to encourage “multiple visits.”

The staff has also been severely cut (Dawes himself only began running the museum this summer, after former Director Michael Rush’s contract ran up in June and was not renewed), and the museum now survives on two full time staff members, and one part time staff member, along with up to 20 students who work both in the museum office and as guides once a week.

Dawes also has hired a preparateur staff of four to help set up the exhibit. “It’s been challenging to get everything and everyone up and running again,” Dawes said. “But we’re just putting together an exhibit like we always do.”