Today I was forwarded a shocking story from the New York Times about Brandeis University closing its art museum due to a budget deficit and decline in its endowment. (Read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/02/arts/design/02rose.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2) Times are tough for all universities right now, but does that merit such a knee-jerk reaction? Quick, let's find something to sell--what can we sell? I know--the arts aren't important to us, so let's sell everything in the museum. What's most galling is that Brandeis' art museum is pretty much self supporting and their budget is balanced. They are not a drain on the university's budget. In fact, they cost the university almost nothing. And yet the university feels it is theirs for the taking. Most of the museum's art has been donated--I know how angry I would be if I had donated work to the museum only to have it sold off. As the last sentence in the story states, when the going gets tough, "art is dispensible."
I work at a university that has an art museum. Times are tough for us too. Our endowment has also declined, and there is a budget deficit. And yet the administration is taking careful and prudent steps to figure out how to deal with the situation. They are not making any hasty decisions and I doubt any one part of the university will take such a big hit. I believe the solution will lie in cuts in all parts of the university, as it should be. Why should one university institution shoulder the burden?
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