Brandeis — Liberal Arts Without the Art

Brandeis -- Liberal Arts Without the Art

In a bold move to bring fine art within reach of average Americans,  Brandeis University is shuttering the Rose Art Museum and selling off 6,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints all at once. Some would question the wisdom of selling great art during a depression, but we applaud this noble decision by university administrators and trustees. When times are tough, people really need the kind of inspiration that only ownership of a Jasper Johns can provide.

Brandeis will sacrifice financially, and students will see paintings on their iPhones instead of at the museum, but this wholesale art dump will bring the price of Warhols, Rauschenbergs, Lichtensteins, de Koonings, and Magrittes so low that Americans who still have jobs can afford them. Too bad Saudi sheikhs, Russian Mafiya chiefs, and Third World dictators will grab the best stuff and whisk it out of the country.

Brandeis is currently $10 million in the hole, but this democratic deaccession has brought the school free publicity worth twice that much. The story is in Time, the Globe, the New York Times, LA Times, and on CNN.  One or two selfish spoilsports want Brandeis to keep the art all to itself, but others recognize the value of this act and praise the selfless school’s art altruism.

There’s one more aesthetic benefit. This should rid the quad of sloppy Gaulois-smoking art students, too.

Updates: Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz is meeting with students Wednesday. Jasper Johns knows about the Rose Museum and he is pissed. As of this writing, the “Concerned Alumni” online petition In Opposition to the Closing of the Rose Art Museum has nearly 2,000 signatures.

New Update: Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes absolutely owns this story:

Brandeis to close Rose Art Museum, sell off collection
Q&A with Rose Art Museum director Michael Rush
The myth of the must-(sell)
David Maisel on the Rose Art Museum

Five Rose-related questions (updated2)

Even Newer Update: Keep the stuff; deaccession the staff. That’s how they do it at Penn’s Archaeology Museum.

Hat Tip: Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed.


Image by Mike Licht. Download an unsigned, unnumbered digital copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


4 Responses to “Brandeis — Liberal Arts Without the Art”

  1. Rob Jones Says:

    Good one, Mike. A tongue in cheek point of view is always refreshing.

  2. The Mummy’s Curse « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] University is closing the Rose Art Museum and selling off 6,000 works of art. The University of Pennsylvania would never […]

  3. Rose Museum Revisted « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] University has backed off on plans to shut down the Rose Art Museum and sell off the collection. Current plans are to reopen the facility as a “research center” and […]

  4. Brandeis Art Museum: Under New Management « NotionsCapital Says:

    […] years ago the trustees of Brandeis University tried to close the Rose Art Museum sell off paintings in the collection. This week the Museum chose a new director, Christopher Bedford, currently chief curator of the […]

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