University exploring alternatives to art sale

Brandeis will explore a range of alternatives to the sale of art from the Rose Art Museum in an effort to generate value from a portion of the collection while still maintaining ownership of the artwork, the university announced today.

The inquiry into alternatives is in its initial stages, and President Jehuda Reinharz said it is premature to say what kind of agreements might be negotiated, what the time frame may be, what parties might be interested, what art might be included or how much revenue any agreement might generate.

The university is in discussions with Sotheby’s to solicit advice on non-sale partnerships, lending agreements and other creative solutions in the fundraising arena, he said.

“Ideally, we will continue to own the art but find an innovative way to get value from it. That’s our preference,” Reinharz said. “Our goal is to support the mission of Brandeis and to benefit our students, faculty and the entire university community while retaining the collection.

“Since the 1970s, some of the most acclaimed museums in the world have used a variety of methods to realize value from their collections. Sotheby’s will guide us as we explore those options. Contrary to some reports, selling art from the Rose has never been our desired goal,” he added.

The Rose Art Museum and the future of its collection have been a controversial topic since January 2009, when the Brandeis Board of Trustees voted to authorize the sale or other disposition of art from the museum to provide funds to support the core educational mission of the university. The vote came at a time of historic economic crisis and Brandeis, like all colleges and universities, was facing extreme budget pressures.

The university has not sold any art since that vote, and will not do so while it examines non-sale alternatives.

This March, the Board voted to keep the Rose a university museum open to the public and to more fully integrate it into the academic mission of Brandeis. Since then, the university has hired a museum collections manager and registrar and is conducting a search for a director of education. In recent years, many museums have engaged in a variety of collection-sharing arrangements, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum, all in New York; the Louvre, the Musee National Picasso and the Musee d’ Orsay, all in Paris; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Hermitage in St.
Petersburg, Russia.

Reinharz said that while the university cannot know how successful this effort might be, Brandeis is committed to using a portion of any proceeds it realizes from art in the Rose Art Museum to directly benefit both the museum and the university’s Department of Fine Arts.

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