|Shuffleton's Barbershop by Norman Rockwell|
The paintings will be auctioned by Sothebys in the next six months and are expected to raise over $50 million.
|Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop by Norman Rockwell|
Norman Rockwell donated the paintings to the museum, which was founded in 1903 on the model of the Metropolitan Museum and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
The Museum made the decision after consulting with local community leaders, architects, and education consultants. They have announced the new vision for a "transformed museum" with a "radically new interdisciplinary approach....Static museum galleries will be transformed into active teaching laboratories."
The Museum risks censure from the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors for selling its art to raise funds for operations and renovations rather than acquisitions of new artwork.
|William-Adolphe Bouguereau, L'Agneau nouveau-né (The Newborn Lamb)|
|“Valley of the Santa Ysabel,” by Frederic Church, 1875|
In in its guidelines, the AAMD states that “A museum director shall not dispose of accessioned works of art in order to provide funds for purposes other than acquisitions of works of art for the collection.”
Both organizations have joined in a statement opposing the sale: “One of the most fundamental and longstanding principles of the museum field is that a collection is held in the public trust and must not be treated as a disposable financial asset.”
|Albert Bierstadt, Connecticut River Valley, Claremont, New Hampshire 1868|
Apart from the loss of the paintings to public view, the decision may lead to other repercussions for the museum. Potential donors of artwork may have second thoughts about bequeathing paintings, artifacts, or other treasures that might be liquidated later as a cash asset.
Under censure by the museum associations, other museums may shun the Berkshire Museum for traveling exhibitions or loans.
Berkshire Museum's websiteBerkshire Museum to sell works by Calder, Church and Durrie (Berkshire Eagle)
In letter to Berkshire Museum, artists group asks them to reconsider selling off works (Berkshire Eagle)
Berkshire Museum Dumps the Fine Arts (Berkshire Fine Arts)Berkshire Museum’s Planned Sale of Art Draws Opposition (New York Times)
Full list of works to be sold