The Berkshire Museum and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office came to an agreement that will allow the museum to sell artworks from its collections, while one work by Norman Rockwell will be sold to an institution that will keep it in public view, pending court approval.
Norman Rockwell’s "Shuffleton’s Barbershop" will be sold to an unidentified American museum, and will first go on loan to the Norman Rockwell Museum, and possibly other museums, in the Berkshires region.
The museum's "dire financial condition" led AG Maura Healey's Office to agree to the art sales which were protested by Rockwell's family, locals, arts groups, and the museum community.
The 40 deaccessioned artworks will likely be offered again at Sotheby's in New York, where the works were pulled from a Nov. 2017 auction, but the sales are capped at $55 million, after which no more works would be sold.
“This agreement helps secure the future of the Berkshire Museum for years to come, while preserving Shuffleton’s Barbershop for public view, in keeping with the wishes of Norman Rockwell,” AG Healey said. “We are pleased that this agreement will allow the Berkshire Museum to thrive, ensures that no more art than necessary will be sold, and honors the legacy of Norman Rockwell and his masterpiece, Shuffleton’s Barbershop.”
Elizabeth McGraw, President of the Board of Trustees of the Berkshire Museum, said, “For the people of Berkshire County who rely on our museum to engage with the arts, history, and science, this agreement is the promise of a long future for our small but extraordinary museum and its collection. We hope it will also mark the beginning of a time when our community can come together again.”