At last we left the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University back in early May, things were at something of a stand-still, with the university’s board forming a committee to tell them exactly what they wanted to do in the first place: close the museum and sell off all its art. Although nothing was planning for “the immediate future” (followed shortly thereafter by the museum being officially closed and nearly all of its staff let go), it was another blow to supporters of the museum who have been fighting the board’s impromptu decision from the very start. But now those supporters have decided to take their fight to the courts, as they’ve filed a suit against the university that will try and block any and all sales from its collection. The argument posed in the suit is that the sale goes against everything the Rose’s original founders and donors would have wanted, essentially meaning that Brandeis is violating the contract (as well as the ethical principles) put in place back in the 1960s when the museum came to be. The university has called the lawsuit “frivolous” and, unfortunately for the supporters of the Rose, will likely go the way of Fisk University, who just recently got the okay to sell off all their Georgia O’Keefe paintings, despite major objections, after a court ruled that once a donation is made, the artwork becomes the property of its new owners. But even Fisk lost their first court battle, so who knows? We’ll have to wait and see how it all pans out.
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