By Emma Kahn
With little notice or publicity, the Rosebud Gallery, a project by the Rose Art Museum, has recently closed its doors. The Rosebud was a small art gallery that bridged the Rose and the broader Waltham community, encouraging stronger ties between Brandeis and its neighbors. An editor at The Brandeis Hoot inquired as to a potential collaboration at the Rosebud and received the reply that it “is no more.” Curious, we turned to members of the Rose staff to shed some light on the history of the Rosebud and its subsequent closure.
Tucked in the corner of Waltham Commons, a bustling space for the city as a whole, the Rosebud was a beautiful little artistic gem that offered one iteration of what future museum spaces could be. In a prior interview with The Brandeis Hoot, Communications Coordinator Nina Berger remarked, “The Rose is literally blossoming in downtown. We thought, ‘How can a museum of the 21st century serve its public? There are pop-up stores and shops, why not a gallery?’ It’s a great location—right next to Cafe on the Common—in the midst of Waltham’s burgeoning arts and culture district.” Specifically featuring video art as its central medium, the Rosebud offered mobile and accessible art forms that they hoped would spark new conversations among its visitors of any and all backgrounds and experiences.
Unknown to many, the Rosebud was always intended to be temporary and was created in large part with funding by the Further Forward Foundation. In its lifespan, it saw several programs hosted in conjunction with community organizations such as the Waltham Artist Mills Association, who led drawing sessions once per week. Other experiential programs out of the Rosebud invited visitors to make their own videos using stop-motion or allowed them to write on the gallery’s walls to express their hopes for the blossoming Waltham art scene. The Rosebud hosted two premieres featuring an original “Field_Work” by JJ PEET in collaboration with Brandeis students and Theaster Gates’ film, “Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr.”
Once the Rosebud’s doors opened, the project received further support from local businesses, as well as the support of the building’s landlord, who took an interest in the initiatives of the Rosebud. With encouragement from the community, the Further Forward Foundation granted additional funding for the program, and the Rosebud’s lease was extended past the original funding’s threshold of eight months.
Interim Director of the Rose Kristin Parker found that the Rosebud not only fulfilled its original intent, but even surpassed its initial expectations. “We opened the gallery as a way to introduce the Rose to the city of Waltham—a sort of artistic handshake. Our goal was to simply meet the neighbors, learn about one another and encourage visits to the museum on campus and bring Brandeis students into Waltham for classes at Rosebud,” she wrote in an email.
Despite its successes, its functionality was limited to serving as a temporary initiative. “Operating Rosebud, without additional staff to manage it, became operationally challenging,” Parker explained. “Knowing it was temporary made it possible to take on this extra work—as it was an extra gallery with additional programming. We have to hone our resources and prioritize. It was the responsible decision to close Rosebud as originally planned, at this particular time, despite everyone’s excitement. We know that we made Waltham connections and lured new visitors to campus, and now we have a good idea of what a successful satellite gallery looks like,” Parker said.
However, the prospect remains for the Rose Art Museum to take its experiences in creating a successful pop-up gallery and bring similar projects to light. “We are brainstorming with colleagues in Boston who have expressed interest in creating programs in communities that may not have easy access to contemporary art,” Parker added. “That’s all I can say. Stay tuned!”
The Rose Art Museum isn’t going anywhere, but its small-scale initiatives and temporary exhibitions are always offering new experiences for its visitors and should not be overlooked. Rosebud closed too quietly, an indication that the Brandeis community has largely overlooked the Rose’s efforts off campus. The Rose is consistently pushing the envelope in the art world and the Brandeis community should certainly take note of its initiatives that extend beyond the museum’s walls.