Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz has given interviews with both the Boston Globe and the Brandeis student newspaper, the Hoot, in which he starts backpedalling madly on the subject of closing the Rose Art Museum. (As Richard Lacayo notes, the very first sentence of the Brandeis press release on January 26 talked about closing the Rose.) Now, the picture is much murkier. Here’s some verbatim quotes from the Hoot interview:
The board resolution did not speak about the closing of the Rose. The board resolution stated that we sought to find a way to integrate the roles more closely into the mission of the university…
The press release misrepresented what the board actually said, as did the initial statement. We tried to correct it immediately afterward, but it was too late, the train had left the station…
I said I’m not closing the Rose. I made that statement…
I never said that we’re closing the Rose. The board has directed us to integrate the Rose more fully into the educational mission of the university. That’s what the board resolution says.
We have a faculty committee that is working right now in thinking what and how the Rose should function on this campus. the Rose is an integral part of this university, just like the Philosophy department, the Biology department.
The press release was written in a manner that was confusing and misleading. We are going to now have lots of discussions with the faculty and students, to talk about all the options including the Rose. And I want to hear what the community says…
Integrating the Rose into the educational mission of the University may or may not save money. If you ask me how it will be done, we have a faculty committee. The board resolution also talks about the possibility of selling art. That’s where the funds are. It’s not in the closing. So that is not part of the equation. Do I make myself clear now?
Er, no: right now absolutely nothing is clear. But that’s a significant advance from before, when it seemed very clear indeed that Brandeis intended to close the Rose Art Museum. Right now, according to Reinharz, it’s all in the hands of a faculty committee.
Reinharz said in the interview that closing the Rose is not necessarily a prerequisite for selling the Rose’s art: I’m glad he’s now making that distinction, because this is the first time that I’ve seen anybody at the university admit that there’s a difference there.
In any event, the uproar seems to have worked, at least to some extent: the employees of the Rose have not been given notice, the president seems clear (today at least) that a decision to close the Rose has not been taken, and now these decisions are going to be made in sunlight, rather than by mysterious board edict. It’s not a complete victory: the Rose has by no means been indubitably saved. But it’s a big step in the right direction.
Update: In a letter, Reinharz says that "The Museum will remain open, but in accordance with the Board’s vote, it will be more fully integrated into the University’s central educational mission. We will meet with all affected University constituencies to explore together how this can best be done." Which seems pretty unambiguous to me.
Update 2: Or maybe the Rose will close, to all intents and purposes, after all. Although he told the Hoot that everything’s in the hands of a faculty committee, Reinharz said something very different to the Globe:
In reality, the Rose museum as it exists today will eventually cease to operate and instead will be turned into an educational center for Brandeis students and faculty, Reinharz told the Globe on Wednesday. It will include more student and faculty exhibits, and the public will still be allowed to visit.
"We’re saying we’re turning it into a gallery and a teaching site for the faculty of the fine arts," Reinharz told the Globe. "We don’t want to be in the public museum business."
My one glimmer of hope is that Reinharz’s statements on Wednesday have been superceded by his statements on Thursday. But who knows. I’m told by Brandeis insiders that the Rose staff still very much expects to be out of work come the summer.