After an Appeals Court Judge granted the state Attorney Generals request for a preliminary injunction, lawyers for the Berkshire Museum
are asking the Superior Court for an expedited trial to reach a final judgment on the merits of this case as quickly as possible to allow the Museums Board of Trustees to pursue plans critical to securing the museums future.
The temporary injunction was granted Friday (11/10) to continue through December 11 by an Appeals Court Judge after a Superior Court Judge had denied a similar request. The injunction prevented the museum from selling some of its collection through a Sothebys auction scheduled for Monday, November 13th. Lawyers for the Museum are asking the Superior Court to take up these issues in a full trial as soon as possible.
The delay in the sale prompted by the Attorney Generals action has already put the Museum at risk, lawyers for the Museum wrote in legal papers filed today. Quoting the decision of the Superior Court Judge denying an injunction, the Museums submission continues: a delay in the auction runs the risk that Sothebys will be unable to generate similar consumer interest if and when the injunction is lifted, and that this could be disastrous for the Museum.
It is imperative to the Museums survival that the AGOs claims are resolved on the merits through a final judgment as quickly as possible, the lawyers continued.
Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini, after thorough review of these issues, concluded last week that the Museums Board of Trustees undertook a deliberate and careful review and the boards decisions reflected a high degree of accountability to the individual donors as well as the community. He noted the rights of a charitable board to make thoughtful decisions to steer its charity through troubled times have been vindicated.
After nearly two years of extensive study, including outreach to the community, the Museums Board of Trustees concluded that to meet the Museums severe financial challenges and keep open the 114-year-old institution required the New Vision plan. This plan, consistent with the Museums mission, aims to create an innovative 21st-century institution that will continue to contribute to the education, culture, and economy of the region. With shrinking public support for education particularly, the Museum is an increasingly important part of the science, art, and history experiences available to children in the region.
The deaccession of 40 pieces of the 40,000 plus items in the Museums collection will help fund a physical renovation, as well as the creation of a new endowment essential to sustaining the Museum into the future.