Museum Closings Worldwide

by Tony Rajer

January, 2009 was a bad month for museums around the world. After ten years the Fairfield Art Center in Sturgeon Bay, Wi. announced their closing, saying “budget deficits could not continue, we have to close.” Their stellar Henry Moore art collection will go to the Chazen Art Museum in Madison and the contemporary glass will go to the Bergstrom-Mahler in Neenah.

At Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. the university trustees voted unanimously to close the fiscally sound Rose Art Museum, which was in operation for 48 years, then informed the museum director and museum board. Fait accompli! The staff was stunned, in addition the regents decided to sell off the 6,000 object contemporary art collection, including Warhols and Lichtensteins. Donors are furious and threatening lawsuits and breach of trust.

In the Middle East museums have not faired any better. The Gaza Historical Museum, which opened in 2008, with its beautiful collection of ancient artifacts closed because of the recent bombings. As you can see museum staff and collections are being severely challenged by fiscal, economic, and political conflicts that have little  to do with museums. Let’s hope for a peaceful spring.