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Rose reopens with permanent collection

Published: October 30, 2009
Section: Front Page


Students look at artwork on the upper level of the Rose Art Museum Wednesday night at the reopening of the museum.  The museum had been closed since August in preparation for the exhibition, which is the first time ever that all three gallaries of The Rose are showing artwork from the permanent collection exclusively.  <br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

Students look at artwork on the upper level of the Rose Art Museum Wednesday night at the reopening of the museum. The museum had been closed since August in preparation for the exhibition, which is the first time ever that all three gallaries of The Rose are showing artwork from the permanent collection exclusively.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

The Rose Art Museum reopened Wednesday night as some 200 visitors viewed the largest collection of contemporary art in New England nine months after Brandeis University trustees authorized the sale of the works.

University President Jehuda Reinharz said Wednesday night’s event acts both as a celebration of the museum and as an affirmation that “The Rose is open.”

The exhibit, which features works by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Marc Chagall, and many others, was divided into six sections showcasing six different styles of art.

While the museum itself is open, the question of what will happen to its art is yet unanswered. Malcolm Sherman, chair of the Board of Trustees, refused to comment on the board’s intentions Wednesday night.

University Provost Marty Krauss agreed with Reinharz saying, “The Rose is saved. That’s the headline for this event.”

Nine months ago the board of trustees authorized the transitioning of the Rose into a teaching center and the sale of its the collection to help mitigate its financial crisis. The university was reeling from the recession, with Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Peter French estimating the endowment was headed for a 35 percent unrealized loss. Since then, that loss has been pegged at 17 percent.

Three benefactors of the museum are currently seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the sale of artwork they donated. The case will be tried in Suffolk Probate Court on June 29. The attorney general’s office has also opened up an investigation into the university and its potential decision to sell pieces from the collection.

Visitors at the exhibit were greeted by Fine Arts majors, who distributed free buttons saying “Save the Rose.”

“We are here to show how students do support the museum and to make sure that it stays open, and that the administration and the Board of Trustees knows that closing the museum or selling its art is not OK,” Emily Leifer ‘11 said as she distributed the buttons.

Administrators present at the opening, however, were less than pleased with the buttons Leifer and her colleagues distributed.

President Reinharz’s wife, Professor Shulamit Reinharz (SOC), approached the students and said, “If you want to keep doing something damaging to the university and the museum, then keep doing what you’re doing.”

 Fine Arts majors distributed buttons that read “SAVE THE ROSE” to museum visitors as they entered the museum.  The 100-plus buttons disseminated at the opening served as a reminder that the fate of the Rose Art Museum and its collection  remains largely unknown, with Chair of the Brandeis Board of Trustees refusing to comment on the Board’s plans for the Museum.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

Fine Arts majors distributed buttons that read “SAVE THE ROSE” to museum visitors as they entered the museum. The 100-plus buttons disseminated at the opening served as a reminder that the fate of the Rose Art Museum and its collection remains largely unknown, with Chair of the Brandeis Board of Trustees refusing to comment on the Board’s plans for the Museum.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

“They are misguided,” she later said. “They should be saying ‘I support The Rose.’ The Rose has already been saved.”

Krauss said she was pleased with the number of students who attended. “When I saw the crowd tonight, tears came to my eyes that so many students would be here in support of the museum,” Krauss said.

Even so, tension surrounding the future of the museum was apparent in the Rose Art Museum’s cell phone tour, compiled by graduate students in the Cultural Productions program.

In the audio tour for Roy Lichtenstein’s “Forget it! Forget me!,” two graduate students act out the conversation between two pop-art characters as though they are arguing about whether to be sold at auction.

In the painting, the man says “Forget it! Forget Me! I’m fed up with your kind,” which the cultural productions students interpreted as representing the art world.

In the audio, the man tells the woman, who represents the university’s desire to sell the artwork, “I am not sacrificing my artistic integrity in the name of the almighty dollar…We can’t just be split up, we’re a collection.”

Rose family members were also present at the museum’s reopening.

While Meryl Rose, the family member engaged in the legal battle with the university over the museum, did not attend, Brandeis alumnae Francine Koslow Miller ‘73 was present.

Miller is the author of a book about the university’s handling of the issue entitled “The Rape of The Rose.” She handed out pamphlets on a reading of her book next month.

While the night was full of players in the Rose’s future, for Sophie Krupp ‘12, who has been to multiple Rose exhibits, the opening was just an opportunity to see the museum’s permanent collection.

“I really love it. The art is just great,” she said. “This exhibit feels different from the others because so many people turned out to see the collection.”

*** A version of this article printed on Oct. 30 incorrectly stated that “Nine months ago the president and board of trustees decided it would close the Rose and sell the collection to help mitigate its financial crisis.” In reality, the board of trustees authorized the transitioning of The Rose and the sale of its artwork, and the administration did not close The Rose.