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Berkshire Museum to Auction More Works

The board of trustees of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has announced that two works will be auctioned at Sotheby’s American art auction set to take place in New York on November 16. The pieces—Hunter in the Winter Wood by George Henry Durrie and The Last Arrow by Thomas Moran—are part of the second group of works that will be sold as part of the institution’s controversial deaccessioning plan, which was approved by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on April 5, 2018.

When the institution first announced that it wanted to sell works in order to fund a renovation and expansion of its more than one-hundred-year-old building last year, it sparked a major backlash that prompted a lengthy legal battle. The museum eventually won the right to sell up to forty works so that it could raise $55 million to bolster its endowment. It has already raked in more than $45 million from auctions held in April and May and through private transactions, including the sale of an iconic Norman Rockwell painting to George Lucas’s new Los Angeles museum dedicated to narrative art.

It also revealed that it has hired a firm, led by Brent D. Glass, director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, to help the Berkshire Museum find new leadership. Its most recent executive director, Van Shields, stepped down from the post after a nearly seven-year tenure in June. Davis Ellis is currently serving as the museum’s interim director. “We are excited about working with the Berkshire Museum to find a strong, creative, and effective leader at an extraordinary moment for the museum and the community it serves,” said Glass.