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LAST WEEK, the Board of Governors of the Peabody Museum was forced for want of funds to sell a collection of paintings valued at 1 million, primarily because of the University's short-sighted financial policies.
Surrounding the sale was an atmosphere of intra-museum and intra-departmental dissent which some say only begins to reveal the museum's problems.
C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, director of the Peabody, says the sale is necessary because the Peabody needs at least $1 million to build a system for conserving and protecting its archaeological treasures, many of which are currently deteriorating in the unregulated atmosphere of the museum.
Some observers add that Lamberg-Karlovsky was originally forced to use the threat of selling off two collections--rousing vehement departmental and museum dissent--in order to persuade the University that the Peabody should be cut in on the planned capital fund drive.
AT times, Harvard's financial policy of "each tub on its own bottom" seems capricious at best. The Peabody Museum is one of the country's finest storehouses of archaeological and ethnological materials. To see its treasures go to waste because of stubbornly enforced University directives--what one administrator called "financial disregard" for the Peabody in favor of the Fogg Museum--is clearly misguided.
The sale of the Inman Collection scares those who think that the sale of valuable materials is a poor precedent for the University to set. What is worse, however, is that the University planners have literally forced the Peabody's board into the position of selling one collection to save the rest.
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