Brandeis Art Museum Will Keep Famed Collection Intact

By Phillip Martin

July 1, 2011

BOSTON — Brandeis University has announced that its famous collection of contemporary art will not be sold off. The university administration had threatened in 2009, in the midst of economic downturn, to auction off the prized 6,000-object collection at the Rose Art Museum if it became financially necessary to do so.

But the school did not anticipate the furious backlash to that decision. A group of museum supporters filed suit over the handling of the museum. A settlement announced on June 30 by Brandeis’ new President, however, will keep the museum open for to the public and its collection intact.

Roy Dawes, the Rose Museum’s acting director, said that the university has fully committed to the museum’s present role as a pre-eminent draw for art lovers and a great educational resource. The collection features original paintings from modern American artists such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.

“In the simplest of terms, basically Brandeis has stated quite emphatically that no artwork will be sold and that we will be hiring a new director,” Dawes said. “I have acted as interim director and will step down as the second in charge, as deputy director, and we can move forward in a fully functioning fashion.”

And Dawes says he is relieved. “We weathered the storm. It’s an amazing collection of modern and contemporary art — the largest collection of its kind in New England — and it’s something beloved by many people and it was horrifying to think that we might lose it.”

The Rose Museum is currently undergoing a $2 million renovation. It will re-open its doors to the public in October, with an exhibit of contemporary art from 1961, the year it was founded, to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

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