Tyler Green has an interview with the director of the Rose Museum, Michael Rush, that raises some interesting questions. Rush is adamant that the Rose is financially independent of the university and closing the museum is merely an excuse to liquidate the art as an asset.
The Rose is not in financial trouble. We’re secure. I can’t say that strongly enough. We’re meeting our fundraising goals. We’re doing fine. We have a tight managerial structure. We’re utterly responsible. There’s no trouble for the Rose.
This is all about selling the artwork. If the university gives any indication that they’re selling the Rose to save money, that’s untrue. They’re just selling the artwork. The university doesn’t give us a penny. We are financially autonomous within the university. They don’t pay our salaries or anything, just below-the-line costs like the heat and the lights. That’s not going to change if they get rid of us – they’re going to use the building for something else, and they’ll have those same costs.
So this does not change their equation economically at all. In fact it hurts them: Not only do they not give us any cash, all of our income is ‘taxed’ at 15 percent. We actually pay them. So they’re losing the 15 percent that we raise that they take off the top of our hard-earned money. And believe me, it’s hard-earned.
MAN: You mentioned earlier in our conversation that the Rose had an endowment that, at its peak was at $20 million and that it’s down about 25 percent because of the recent market drop. The Rose’s donors gave that money to the Rose, not to Brandeis. So if Brandeis closes the Rose, does Brandeis essentially ‘steal’ that money?
MR: I don’t know what to say about that. If the Rose is closed, yeah, the university would take it over.
Their due diligence will involve examination of all the endowments and the intentions of the endowment, the ones that are restricted. Many of our endowments are restricted. One is restricted to the director’s salary, that one is from from the Fosters. There’s another that is restricted to the maintenance of the Foster Wing. Our biggest endowments are restricted to acquisitions, that can only be used for the purchase of art.
If the museum has its own endowment, what is the structure that puts ownership of the art in the hands of the museum?
Q&A with Rose Art Museum Director Michael Rush (Modern Art Notes)