October 25, 2017

Save the Art – Save the Museum Group Publishes Open Letter to Berkshire Museum’s Board of Trustees. Demonstration at the Museum planned for Saturday Oct., 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In an impassioned plea to the Berkshire Museum’s board of trustees, today the Save the Art – Save the Museum citizen’s group published a full-page open letter in The Berkshire Eagle calling for a stop to the impending auction of the Museum’s art treasures, including two Norman Rockwell paintings.

The letter states, in part,

“You alone can restore balance to the museum. Only you can heal the division the proposed sale has inflicted on our community, and reverse the harm done to the reputation of the trustees and institution we love. It lies in your power to avoid divisive legal action. We ask you to honor the objections of the Rockwell family, and heed the unanimous outcry of the museum profession over the damaging precedent the sale would set. Bring all the art home. Future generations look to you to prevent the irrevocable loss of their cultural inheritance.”

A version of the letter was sent by mail to each of the trustees last week.  It concludes with a strongly worded request for the trustees to change course.

 “…we implore you to stand up in conscience and duty and stop this sale. When you do, you will find many friends eager to help forge a successful and sustainable strategy for the Museum’s future. There is courage and wisdom in changing course in light of altered circumstances… We extend our hand in the spirit of dialogue, cooperation, and good faith.”

“We have sought out dialogue with the trustees since the sale was announced,” said Save the Art – Save the Museum founder Leslie Ferrin. “We hope they accept the invitation of this public letter and join us in finding an alternative solution to selling the art and destroying the public trust.”

The group continues efforts to oppose the decision by the museum leadership to sell the artworks. The public is invited to participate in the group’s third demonstration to “Stand with the Rockwells” and “Bring the Art Home” on Saturday, Oct. 28. The rally will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the sidewalk in front of the Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield.

A group led by Norman Rockwell’s three sons and Pittsfield artist Tom Patti filed a lawsuit last week seeking a temporary injunction on the auction, scheduled for November 13. In the wake of this development, Save the Art – Save the Museum has strengthened its public outreach and fundraising efforts to help underwrite legal fees and advance community education. A fundraiser will be held at Wandering Star Craft Brewery, 11 Gifford St., Pittsfield, on Thursday, Oct. 26, from 5-9 p.m. 

Since launching fundraising efforts earlier this month, Save the Art – Save the Museum has received support from more than 200 concerned citizens who have donated to the group’s education and legal fund via an online fundraising platform (gofundme.com) Twenty-five others have donated privately.

The group represents more than 2,100 people who have signed petitions sent to the Massachusetts Attorney General, and reflects the voices of the more than 2,000 active followers on two Save the Art Facebook pages. These include Pittsfield and Berkshire County residents and visitors, as well as artists, arts professionals, museum lovers, and concerned citizens throughout the U.S. and abroad, many with strong ties to the Berkshires.

According to Great Barrington resident and Save the Art activist Sharon Gregory, “We advocate vigorous fundraising instead of liquidating the collection. Disposing of long-standing gifts to fund basic operations, renovation and expansion violates the code of ethics of museum governance and undermines the meaning and purpose of the public trust.”



Save the Art – Save the Museum is a citizens’ group dedicated to serving and preserving the integrity of the Berkshire Museum and its collections. It began as a grassroots effort on social media shortly after the Museum announced plans for the sale in July. Members now meet regularly to organize opposition to the deaccession as well as to educate the public on viable alternatives to it.


For more information on Save the Art – Save the Museum
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