The saga of the Rose Museum at Brandeis University continues with three of the museum’s overseers suing the university over the closure. The New York Times has a brief item on the suit:
In their suit the overseers — Jonathan O. Lee, Lois Foster and Meryl Rose, a member of the family whose donations created the museum in 1961 — contend that Brandeis’s plans to close the museum “contradict the charitable intentions” of the museum’s founders, “abrogate Brandeis’s promises that the Rose would be maintained in perpetuity” as a modern and contemporary art museum, and violate its commitments to those who donated art to the museum. In a statement, attorneys for the university called the lawsuit frivolous and without merit, arguing that the Rose’s endowment is part of the larger Brandeis endowment, and that the university is focused first and foremost on “providing its students with a first class education and ensuring that Brandeis continues to provide financial assistance to needy students.”
The Boston Globe goes a little further quoting Jonathan Lee:
“The purpose of the lawsuit is to say, ‘Guess what? The art is not yours to sell,’ ’’ said Lee, chairman of the museum’s overseers, whose late mother donated more than 500 works of art to the Rose. “The university looks at this from a business perspective. This is a valuable asset, and they are going to rebalance their portfolio, as if they owned a timber stand in North Carolina. It is wrong to sell off a long-term cultural asset when you have a short-term financial problem.’’ […]
Lee said the museum’s transition into an arts center is a technicality that will pave the way for artwork to be sold. Museum ethical codes require proceeds from any sale of artwork be used only to purchase new acquisitions. The lawsuit contends that Brandeis has accelerated the process of preparing works for sale in recent weeks, and that artwork will start to be sold by the fall, which the university denies. […]
The overseers entered the suit in the SJC to make a larger point about honoring donor intent, Lee said. His mother, Mildred Schiff Lee, who died in May, began collecting American Expressionist art in the 1940s and started donating to the Rose shortly after its founding in 1961 because of the museum’s commitment to exhibit the works to the public.
Lawsuit Seeks to Save Art Museum at Brandeis (New York Times)
Museum Overseers Sue to Halt Rose Closure (Boston Globe)