January 28, 2009

Brandeis University closing art museum

Financially-strapped Brandeis University in Massachusetts has announced plans to shutter its Rose Art Museum this summer and sell off about 6,000 objects.

The Boston Globe said the university's board of trustees Sunday voted unanimously to close the 48-year-old museum due to a financial crisis brought on by endowment losses and a drop in fund-raising.

The collection the university plans to sell is estimated to be worth about $350 million and includes works by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Nam June Paik.

It is the largest asset that the university owns, and it is a world-class asset, Jonathan Lee, who chairs the Rose's board of overseers, told The Globe. So they're saying, 'Oops, we've had some bad reversals in our endowment investments, and we're going to make it up by selling our art.' What a second-class institution we've decided to be.

Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz told the newspaper the university has no other options.

This is not a happy day in the history of Brandeis, Reinharz said. The Rose is a jewel. But for the most part it's a hidden jewel. It does not have great foot traffic, and most of the great works we have, we are just not able to exhibit. We felt that, at this point given the recession and the financial crisis, we had no choice.

The museum building is expected to be used as a fine arts teaching center with studio space and an exhibition gallery, The Globe said.