A little over a month ago from today was the advent of what once was a great Brandeis tradition—the semesterly opening of the Rose Art Museum. The slow decline of the museum into stagnation is reflected in the foregoing of the usual opening night to anyone who is not on the guest list or a donor.
Gone is the ambitious advertising campaigns and the complementary coffee table that used to be a staple for the campus community, replaced by decay masquerading as a permanent installation.
At the heart of the Rose lies a black hole where the reflecting pool under the staircase once stood. Who knows what goes on after its limited opening hours? Who has a say in the artworks that are displayed and the exhibitions that are assembled before every semester? In the time where there is such a necessity for transparency both on and off campus, will it have to take yet another bombshell for the Rose to produce its own 25-page report?
This opaqueness is in great part what contributes to one of the biggest identity crises on campus. To us common Brandeis students, is the Rose Art Museum a right or a privilege? The current state of the museum certainly seems to lean towards the latter.
According to its website, we are supposed to be grateful by it being “always FREE” and take pride in its Picassos and Kusamas, among others. Yet, what is the use in clinging to these superfluous labels when in reality it is still virtually impossible for the everyday student to gain access to the over 9000 pieces of trapped artwork that the museum purports to be sitting on?
Meanwhile the facts are clear, there is no reason for the Rose to not be a right for all Brandeisians if our tuition is actively being used towards its funding.
But why is the Rose so hesitant towards even the tiniest bit of real student involvement? Currently, the biggest semblance of such an offering are solely the student gallery attendants, which unfortunately just make the Rose appear to be more invested in making sure students do not touch the artworks rather than giving them more resources so they can fully explore the true breadth of knowledge that these artworks can provide us.
In another example, the Student Committee for the Rose Art Museum, or SCRAM, is an exemplary campus organization that has done a great service to the student body with its many projects, yet even they do not a have much of a say in what gets to be put on in the Rose Art Museum. They meet more often in the art studios than inside the museum that their committee’s name mentions.
And let’s not forget about the Rose interns. It is indisputable that they are more than qualified to be in that position, but has anyone heard of their existence until now? Has anyone ever been reached out to by a Rose Art Intern? Don’t worry, I was as surprised as you are.
Because the truth is clear, we know better than this. We are Brandeis students. In fact, we demand better than this.
The reality outlined in the stunning report announced by the finance administrators in the community meeting almost a year ago still rings in our minds to this day, and the reality of the Rose as one of the few “world-renowned art institutions” without a gift shop or a café or any tangible means for the community to be involved in is only beginning to sink in.
It is time that the museum trusted Brandeisians whose money they use as much as the curators who they deem to know more than us. It is the only way for the Rose to avoid another repeat of the closure crisis that happened years ago.