In what we hope will be the final post on the Rose museum debacle, Time’s Richard Lacayo reveals this ironic turn of events. The appraisal that seems to have cast the deaccessioning drama in motion:
Christie’s appraisal of the Rose collection was ordered up by the museum’s now thoroughly traumatized director, Michael Rush, who did not learn that Brandeis had plans for his museum until the day the school made its initial announcement. He wanted to arrive at a dollar figure for the collection, he says, for insurance purposes, but also to raise the profile of the museum in the eyes of campus administrators. “I thought that the more information they had about how great this place was, the better it would be,” he says. “That may have backfired.”
What a revealing episode. By conjuring with the forces of the market to build his stature within the university, Rush may have brought about his own defenestration. The way Brandeis has behaved has been self-defeating but it now appears that the mixed motives extend into the Rose museum itself. That colors some of what Lacayo says next:
So just why is Brandeis so intent on repurposing the Rose, in whatever way? For a university with a considerable art-history program, which Brandeis is, to remake its museum into something other than a museum is like an agriculture school selling off its livestock. It means eliminating an important teaching resource.
If Brandeis has a considerable art history program, it is odd that Rush would have felt the need to improve the museum’s standing within the university. Nevertheless, the idea that closing the museum and replacing it with a teaching center as an attempt to circumvent the AAMD’s strictures is not really like selling of the livestock. Indeed, only in the museum world are resources considered static things. Not that a university should be selling any educational assets to deal with a financial shortfall, though this particular choice between missions is anything but a mere shortfall.