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After Gaining $53 Million, Berkshire Museum Says It's Done Selling Art

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier
The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, last winter.

The Berkshire Museum announced on Tuesday that it's all done selling its art.

In the past year, the museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, sold 22 pieces of art, including a pair of Norman Rockwell paintings. That brought in $53.25 million, according to a press release, just shy of the $55 million allowed under a settlement with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Museum officials have said the money was needed to keep its doors open, shore up its endowment and renovate the more than century-old building. The statement said the repairs -- including "waterproofing" and improvements to the sewage system and loading dock -- are scheduled to begin in the spring.

The decision to sell the art brought national media attention and lawsuits, including from some of Rockwell's children. The move was also criticized by industry groups -- several of whom cut ties with the Berkshire Museum.

The museum's president, Elizabeth McGraw, has steadfastly defended the plan since it was announced in July 2017. 

"Our work ahead is focused on making this Museum ever more interesting, inspiring and engaging to the broad community in the region it serves and consistent with our unchanged mission," McGraw said in the statement Tuesday.

The plan, originally dubbed "New Vision," was crafted in part by the museum's then-executive director, Van Shields. Shields abruptly retired in June, and the "New Vision" name has been missing from recent museum announcements.

Adam Frenier contributed to this report.

Sam has overseen local news coverage on New England Public Media since 2013. He oversees a team of about a dozen full- and part-time reporters and hosts.
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