The sorry story of the Rose Art Museum

By Felix Salmon
May 27, 2009

Allison Hoffman of the Jerusalem Post brings us up to speed on the Brandeis affair — if you haven’t been following it, the small Jewish university decided last year to close down its art museum and sell off its contents, only to backpedal desperately in the face of a massive public backlash. Where are we now? Well, the Rose is essentially dead — its donors have rescinded their pledges, artists are asking for artwork back, the director has been fired, and it has no chance of being able to raise a penny in new money any longer. That’s the downside, for Brandeis, whose own reputation has been trashed in the process. And the upside? Pretty much nonexistent: no art has been sold, no art will be sold for the next couple of years at least, and confusion reigns on campus and beyond.

A case study, in other words, in how not to make and implement hard decisions in the face of an economic crunch. Now, remind me why Jehuda Reinharz is still president?


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You have asked the right question. Reinharz has mishandled the Rose affair and made a countless number of bad choices. He doesn’t look like he has the skills to manage Brandeis. Not even the PR firm he hired (in a time of fiscal duress) can dig him out of this hole. Time for regime change.

Posted by Steve Miller | Report as abusive

One thing that became clear to me at a Brandeis event at the Harmonie Club on Tuesday night was that at least some of Brandeis’ many board members openly joked that they don’t go to board meetings, which helps to explain a lot about the Rose fiasco. As we’ve seen at numerous companies, an inattentive board allows the CEO to run amok.

Oh — and Reinharz was sporting a very nice tan!