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Help Save the Art/Save the Museum

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is a grassroots citizens organization of individuals who share a common concern about the Berkshire Museum's plan to de-accession its most precious works of art and fund a "New Vision". 

UPDATE: Norman Rockwell’s “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” has been sold to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art for an undisclosed amount.  Judge Lowy's judgement allows the unrestricted sale of the 39 other works of art given to the people of Berkshire County. The following  13 are scheduled for auction at Sotheby's in May 2018.

May 22,  Bouguereau's  L'Agneau Nouveau-Ne, 1873

May 22: Bouguereau's Les deux soeurs (La Bourrique), 1884

May 22: Adriaen Isenbrant, The Flight into Egypt, (1510-1520)

May 22: Adriaen Isenbrant,
The Temptation of Adam & Eve, (1510-1520)

May 23: Rembrandt Peale, George Washington, 1795

May 23: Frederic Church, Valley of Santa Isabel, 1875

May 22: Charles Daubigny, Paysans allant aux champs (Le Matin) 1876

May 23: John La Farge, Magnolia, 1863

May 22: Alberto Pasini, Faubourg de Constantinople, 1877

May 14: Henry Moore, Three Seated Women, 1942

May 14: Francis Picabia, Force Comique, 1913-14

May 14: Norman Rockwell, Blacksmith's Boy - Heel and Toe (Shaftsbury Blacksmith Shop), 1940

May 16: Alexander Calder, Double Arc and Sphere, 1932

STA appreciates your help with ongoing costs that include our website and email list maintenance, graphic design and production, writing and dissemination of press releases, ads, and public statements, and organizing public events.

Follow links to see updates on our website and Facebook page .

We are grateful for your generous support!

STA-STM deposits its funds into the organization’s account and directs its co-treasurers to disburse them in accordance with our stated purposes: legal action to save the art and public outreach. The group’s principles honor the public trust which has accumulated this collection started by Zenas Crane over a century ago.

Meetings take place in Pittsfield, attended by residents of the Berkshires, Massachusetts.

The Museum's “New Vision” violates the public trust, flouts long-held museum ethics, and sets a damaging precedent that will be felt in museums and cultural institutions across the country. It dishonors the founders and stewards of the museum's past and deprives future generations of their cultural inheritance.

Instead we support an “alternative vision” for the museum where, instead of sending these great works into private hands where they will most likely never be seen in public again, they are used as a springboard to establish the Berkshire Museum as one of Massachusetts’ great regional museums of art, history, and culture. As such it will provide access to great art within walking distance to the children of Pittsfield, attract tourism, and energize the city’s economy.

We love the museum and are confident that, given that the outcry has reached national proportions, if the directors were to rethink their plans, they could transform this attention into enormously increased financial support, as happened when the Detroit Institute of the Arts faced similar circumstances. 

We will be grateful for any donation, large or small. Even a modest contribution will be evidence of our large groundswell of support.


Zenas Crane 3d by Ivan Olinsky, 1902

The origins of the Berkshire Museum go back to 1871, when the Massachusetts legislature enacted a charitable corporation called the Trustees of the Berkshire Athenaeum, where there existed an art museum. Then came Zenas Crane.  In 1903, Zenas Crane of Crane & Company of Dalton was the energetic and financial force behind the creation of a separate museum on South Street. Crane advocated the same charitable corporation  that ran the Athenaeum also run the new museum. The legislature changed the name to the Trustees of the Berkshire Athenaeum and Museum in March of 1903. The following month, Crane then deeded the South Street parcel to the Trustees. Zenas Crane, who invested his wealth in his community, actively sought out art and artifacts for the Berkshire Museum (some of the significant works scheduled to be sold), and encouraged the development of collections that would display, under one roof, the splendors of nature and the sublime creations of human genius—science and art, natural and manmade beauty, together in intellectual and aesthetic collaboration—a “window on the world.” 

Zenas Crane donated not only the space, but also bequeathed $200,000 and entrusted much of the fine art collection to the museum.  Other Berkshire County families donated art and money to the museum over time.  Norman Rockwell himself, a resident of the Berkshires, donated his own works. Would Zenas Crane and Norman Rockwell have given art to the Museum had they known that their donations would be monetized and sold to the highest bidder?

The current administration,  in an attempt to shore up its finances, fund a “New Vision” and ensure the Museum’s stability “for the next hundred years,” has sent 40 of its most valuable artworks for auction starting November 13th. They say the works, from which they hope to raise $40-60 million, are “not essential” to the Museum’s new mission with its focus on science and technology, primarily for children. Among the works to be sold works are two paintings by Norman Rockwell donated by the artist for the Museum’s “permanent collection,” significant works by Hudson River School artists, including Albert Bierstadt and Fredric Edwin Church, and sculpture by Alexander Calder, now internationally-recognized but once a local artist whose first commissions were for the Berkshire Museum.

While the Museum conducted focus groups in forming their “New Vision,” because participants were not informed about how it would be funded, the results are not valid. Following the Museum’s revelation to the public, which occurred after the works were consigned to Sotheby’s, several financial analysts, including those at the Massachusetts Cultural Council  (MCC), which supported the Museum with over $1M in grants over the past ten years, have established that the Museum has exaggerated its financial need. In addition to the MCC, major museum organizations have made public their strong opposition to the sale, including the Smithsonian Institution, from which the Museum was forced to withdraw its affiliation.


through gofundme  

the community letter on our website

PETITION on Change.Org
to the Attorney General, Maura Healy, Museum Director, Van Shields, Board President, Elizabeth McGraw.

in the FACEBOOK PAGE - Save the Art / Save the Museum – Articles & messages about events. 

on WEBSITE & FAQ's – Compilation of articles, background information & FAQ's.



  • christopher j donohue
    • $40 
    • 6 yrs


SaveTheArt SaveTheMuseum
Pittsfield, MA

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