Frank Robinson, the retired veteran director of Cornell University’s Johnson Museum, whose provocative letter to the NY Times was seriously misconstrued by another ArtsJournal blogger, responds to my post, Detroit Institute Debate: Judith Dobrzynski’s Misunderstanding of Frank Robinson’s Nuanced NY Times Letter:
Of course your interpretation of my letter is absolutely correct: I hope desperately that Detroit does not sell any paintings. A few years ago, in the middle of the Brandeis controversy [my link, not his], I wrote an op-ed piece for the Providence Journal that condemned the Brandeis administration for trying to sell the paintings at the Rose. At least one museum director has written me in the last day supporting what I wrote this time around.
I suppose it’s too much to expect that people will respond to a nuanced argument in a newspaper article, even in the Times. My central point, as you say, is that some people do think that this is not the time to provide support to museums, especially when it means people might lose part of their pensions, or have basic city services cut. It’s important that museum people understand this and respond to it.
You’re right; Rembrandt really is worth this old life! It was wonderful of you to read my words so clearly and calmly!
Frank, everything I know about the close reading of nuanced text I learned as a Cornall English major!
You will be able to see how others responded to Robinson’s letter, under the heading, “Sunday Dialogue,” in this Sunday’s NY Times “Review” section.