Bertha and Edward Rose break ground on the museum in 1960

Like Lazarus rising from the dead, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University will reopen this week (26-27 October) after a four-month renovation with two celebrations that university president Frederick Lawrence says are heavy with significance for the museum’s future.

“The fact that we are having the reopenings during the fall board of trustees meeting is designed to raise the profile of the Rose in the university community,” he says. It was these same trustees, mostly, who in January 2009 voted to sell the Rose’s famed collection of modern and contemporary art to keep the university from shrinking drastically after the 2008 markets’ crash.

Since then, the Rose has been in limbo. Its supporters successfully sued to block the sale, reaching a settlement this June. But former director Michael Rush, who helped foment the opposition, left when his contract expired in the spring of 2009, and has never been replaced. Instead, Roy Dawes, an artist who joined the Rose staff in 2002 and was once a gallery manager at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art, has led it as “director of museum operations”. Some exhibitions had to be cancelled, including one for James Rosenquist, who blamed a fire in his studio for his withdrawal, but also said he didn’t want to have to deal with the controversy.

Rosenquist is now part of the 26 October re-opening, which kicks off a series of events to mark the Rose’s 50th anniversary. On 27 October, there is also a public reception and viewing.


Judith H. Dobrzynski
The Art Newspaper