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CultureGrrl Video: My Opinionated Tour of the Embattled Berkshire Museum

Having written extensively and critically (four links) about the Berkshire Museum’s deaccession plans, I thought I ought to revisit that embattled institution in person. I’d been there twice before, decades ago, before my skiing knees gave out. It seemed to me largely frozen in time (save for the solar panel):

Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

At the end of this post is my CultureGrrl Video of what I saw and thought during my two-hour journey through the galleries on Monday. Have patience, art-lings: The gallery for the paintings in the very eclectic (and now about to be diminished) permanent collection comes at 5:05 in my video.

Here’s a photo preview:

Berkshire Museum’s European old masters
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Berkshire Museum’s American paintings
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

With my usual nose for news, I was there, by pure coincidence, when the museum’s board was meeting in a room adjacent to the last gallery I admired. That conclave was just letting out when I came upon it, as you’ll see near the end of the video.

I caught sight of the director, Van Shields:

Berkshire Museum director Van Shields, on left
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

As he exited the boardroom, I identified myself to Shields, asking (not on camera) if I might speak with him. Unsurprisingly, given my harsh coverage, he brusquely declined.

I did manage, however, to speak with two people I encountered in the nearly deserted halls: Paula, a lifelong visitor to the museum, now sharing it with her young daughter who tugged impatiently at her mother’s arm while I elicited from her a cogent analysis of how the museum ought enhance its appeal; and Morgan Bulkeley, a Massachusetts artist whose retrospective, Nature Culture Clash (Sept. 29-Feb. 4), was being installed while I was there.

As you’ll see from his hand gesture at the beginning of his comments, he rebuffed a staffer’s attempt to thwart our conversation.

Morgan Bulkeley
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

I’ll have more to say in future posts about recent developments in the continuing saga of the Berkshire Museum’s misguided art disposal plans and the continuing efforts to stop them. But for now, come join me as we take a look at what all the fuss is about. (You can also view the video on YouTube, here.):

an ArtsJournal blog