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Nightmare at the museum: Art auction triggers ethics dispute

Last Updated Jul 30, 2017 at 12:41 pm PDT

(Courtesy Google Maps)

BOSTON (NEWS 1130) – A museum’s decision to part with 40 artworks, including two by Norman Rockwell, has touched off a debate over whether it’s ever ethical to sell pieces of the collection to pay the bills.

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has come under intense national and local pressure after announcing it’s auctioning the art.

Museum executive director Van Shields insists the sale is necessary to ensure the museum’s very existence. Shields said the museum is refocusing its mission to become a more interdisciplinary and interactive institution more dedicated to history and science.

Critics say it’s violating a cardinal rule of museums: You don’t sell assets to pay the bills.

Despite the opposition, Shields says the auction is a done deal.