Berkshire Museum plans to sell artwork

(News10)

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) – The Berkshire Museum is making a decision that has angered people across the country.

The museum is selling 40 pieces of notable artwork, including Norman Rockwell paintings.

The museum says this is the only option to save the institution and create an educational program that unique to the Berkshires, however, not everyone is convinced.

For the Berkshire Museum, selling some of its artwork means a sustainable future.

For Carol Diehl, it means losing a piece of Berkshire history

“These works are the cream of the Berkshire Museum’s collection. They are the best,” Diehl said.

The works of Norman Rockwell and Alexander Calder are among the pieces The Berkshire Museum is selling to private buyers.  It’s a choice that didn’t come easy for board members.

“It was a very hard struggle but we realized we would have to close our doors in six to eight years if we didn’t do something dramatic,” Ethan Klepetar said.

The sale is part of a $45 to $60 million plan to reinvent the 114-year-old museum, which would focus more on science and education.

“We’re going to try to play into what we think is our niche which is being an interdisciplinary museum,” Klepetar said. “We don’t have any other museum in the county that focuses as much on science and natural history.”

Diehl says the art pieces are too invaluable to sell given their historic roots.

“[Some of the artwork has been there since the museum was found in 1903] and it was the work that the museum was founded upon,” Diehl said.

She is hoping to rally enough support before the artwork disappears from the Berkshires.

“They are going to go into the collection of an oligarch in China or the Rockwell to Steven Spielberg’s living room and they’ll never be seen by the public eye again.”

The artwork is scheduled to go up for auction in NYC this November.

Some are hoping they can reverse this decision there will be a save the art demonstration on Saturday at Park Square.