Facing criticism, Berkshire Museum defends sale plan

Pittsfield, Mass.

Cultural institutions normally bask in the sort of widespread attention paid to big projects such as what followed the Berkshire Museum’s announcement last month of a two-years-in-the-making, $60 million “reinvention plan” that will refocus the museum’s mission away from fine art to science and history.

But disproving the adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, much of the coverage — from local and regional media up to major outlets including The New York Times and National Public Radio — featured sharp criticism from some quarters, prominent national museum organizations among them.

The museum’s leadership, which had expected some negativity, was nonetheless stung by its intensity and has spent the past several weeks trying to reiterate its message: Without such a drastic change, the financially ailing museum surely would be forced to close in less than a decade.

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