Bloom Is Off the Rose

27 Jan

I’m not much of an art fan — heck, I practically sprinted through the Louvre and wasn’t all that impressed by the ICA — but the news yesterday that Brandeis, my alma mater, will be closing the Rose Art Museum still came as a real bummer.

I think I can count the total number of times I’ve browsed through the museum on one hand (if I even need that many fingers), but I’d like to think that when I was a student, I still could appreciate the value it added to the campus.

I was arts editor of the Justice and I wrote or edited stories about the Rose often. Each time, the passion with which people would discuss the collection or a new exhibit was inspiring. (One exhibit involving an entire tree was particularly memorable for me.)

So to hear that the university will not only be closing the museum, but will also be selling off the entire collection — one worth around $350 million and including works by such artists as Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein — seems to me like more than just the end of an era.

The Rose is a campus institution, and a much-respected cultural landmark in the Boston area. Its shuttering creates a real void in the art scene, and also lessens the cultural significance of Brandeis itself — a school that has played host to such greats as Leonard Bernstein.

As Justice writer Daniel Orkin wrote in today’s issue, “While the Rose may not be as profitable as any of our famed butter-substitute-generating research labs, it remains an absolutely vital component [of] our history, prestige and identity as a respected institution of learning and as a celebrated center of art and culture.”

I hope that before the doors are closed for good this summer that I’ll make it back over to the campus to give the Rose one last look and pay tribute to an overlooked gem that will definitely be missed.

Update: If you want to join the cause, click here: Save the Rose Art Museum, or join the Facebook group.

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