Indiana University closes art museum

Valparaiso University in Indiana, USA, decided last week to close the Brauer Museum of Art and sell three paintings from its collection, due to serious financial problems. The museum’s director, Jonathan Canning, and 14 staff members have been laid off.

The museum announced in February 2023 that it would sell three of the museum’s most valuable paintings for a total of $20 million to help close the university’s $9 million financial deficit. The painting Rust Red Hills by Georgia O’Keeffe (1930), the second work acquired by the museum and surely the most valuable ($15 million), Mountain landscape by Frederic Edwin Church ($2 million) and Silver Vale and the Golden Gate by Childe Hassam ($3.5 million).

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), Rust Red Hillsoil on canvas, 40 x 76 cm.

© Brauer Museum of Art

This announcement had provoked strong reactions from the Association of Museum Directors (AAMD) according to which the works can only be sold if the funds collected by the museum are used for the direct maintenance of its collection.

The university administration has not made it clear whether the museum’s closure is temporary or permanent; the Brauer Museum of Art will reportedly close for the summer and reopen in September with a change of staff and a new director.¬¬¬¬¬

The Brauer Museum of Art is part of the Valparaíso University Center for the Arts and has a collection of 19th, 20th and contemporary American art, as well as religious art and Midwestern regional art.

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