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Brandeis plans major renovations to museum it once wanted to shut

Greg Cook reports on some impending work at the Rose Art Museum.

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Renovating the museum is a great idea. And, Adam, you've got the details wrong. Brandeis never proposed shutting The Rose; it proposed decertifying it as a museum, to dodge restrictions on deaccession. It would have gone on fulfilling its mission as a teaching collection.

Why any university, granted nonprofit status for its mission of research and education, ought to be allowed to own artworks it seldom displays that are equal in value to half its endowment remains utterly beyond me. The art was bought to form the core of a teaching collection. There's no compelling reason why it can't now be sold, and the proceeds reinvested to advance the educational mission of the institution.

If Brandeis were to take $350 million of its endowment and spend it on a couple dozen paintings, while expanding its enrollment, increasing it tuition, laying off dozens of faculty and staff, and slashing aid, it would be an enormous scandal. It should be a scandal. And to my mind, holding on to artworks of that value while taking all the same actions to solve a fiscal crisis amounts to the same thing. And yet somehow, proposing to act in a morally and institutionally responsible fashion has become the scandal.

Go figure.

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Really? All the articles at the time said they *were* going to close the museum:

http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/200...
"Rocked by a budget crisis, Brandeis University will close its Rose Art Museum and sell off a 6,000-object collection ..."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/02/arts/design/02ro...
"... the university’s trustees voted unanimously to trash the institution by closing it and auctioning off the 6,000 works in its collection ..."
"... a museum that supports itself, raises its own funds and has consistently planned wisely for its own future without leaning on the university."

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