The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts has begun an initial $3.5 million improvement and redesign plan using money raised by controversial art sales in 2018, reports WAMC.
Nearly $50 million was raised by auctioning off collection artworks, including Norman Rockwell's "Shuffleton's Barbershop," among dozens of other works. The museum's deaccessioning of key artworks came after a seven month investigation by the state attorney general which ended with a plan for the cash-strapped museum to go forward with the sales despite opposition from museum organizations, locals, art lovers, and artist Norman Rockwell's family.
A new sewer line was one renovation that the 118-year-old building needed first, according to a museum release. Refreshed amenities and new galleries were also in the renovation plan.
“We have a responsibility to the museum and to our community to ensure that this one-of-akind building is well cared for,” said Jeff Rodgers, executive director of the Berkshire Museum. “Doing this invisible work – repairing walls and floors, installing sewer lines, etcetera – lays the foundation for new and exciting experiences throughout the museum.”
Two new learning spaces totaling approximately 1,100 square feet will be constructed on the second floor. As renovations ramp up, work will conclude on the museum’s first phase of construction which began in spring 2020.