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Museum Review Debated

Staff Say Director Curbed Fundraising

By Alessandra M. Galloni

As the 10 Semitic Museum staff members who were fired last month prepare to leave Harvard, criticism of last year's review of the museum and the conduct of its director is intensifying.

But the controversy surrounding the museum's staffers and its director, Professor of the Archaeology of Israel Lawrence Stager, underscores a greater debate about the museum's duty to the University's academic community and to the public at large.

The 10 staff members, who, will leave the museum on December 17, and several supporters of the museum have accused Stager of hampering their fundraising efforts to curb the museum's seven-year cumulative $1 million deficit.

"Part of the responsibility for the deficit, surely, lies with the director whoraised no money and then exploited the scarcity offunds as a reason to strangle the museumentirely," wrote Lecturer on Social Studies MartinH. Peretz in a commentary in The Crimson Monday.

Father Carney Gavin, the museum's curator andexecutive director, said last night that the banplaced on the museum's fundraising during lastyear's review thwarted the staff's efforts tosolicit much-needed donations.

"We were forbidden to raise funds so we couldclose for lack of funds," Gavin said.

But committee members attacked Peretz' letterlast night, saying it inaccurately representedtheir intentions the recommendations made in theirreport.

"It's very disturbing to see the number offallacies and innuendoes of anti-Semitism whichare entirely misplaced," Professor of Near EasternLanguages and Civilizations Peter B. Machinistsaid last night.

Machinist, who was a member of the committeereviewing the museum, said the fundraisingrestrictions were not a ban, rather a temporarymeasure requiring new fundraising for the museumto be authorized by the director.

But staff members also charge that therecommendations of the advisory committee--chairedby Stager--to restructure the museum towards amore academic focus are evidence of the director'slong-standing aversion to the museum's publicfacets.

"Before he moved to Cambridge fromChicago...[Stager] said to me `I'm not sure thatthe museum should stay open," Curator for ExhibitsNitza Rosovsky said last night. "He certainlynever took an active interest in the museum."

Stager defended himself yesterday, saying thatwhen he came as director, the existing deficit wasalready a cause for worry.

"I was hopeful for the museum. Otherwise, Iwouldn't have taken the job," Stager said. "Butthe deficit was a substantial concern...and itcontinued to grow."

The review of the museum, however, was promptedmainly by the need to revise the mission of themuseum so that it would better serve theeducational needs of Harvard students and faculty,committee members said yesterday.

"The issue of the growing deficit madeattention to the mission more essential,"Machinist said.

Committee members said that, despite this newacademic focus, the museum will continue to housecollections and sponsor exhibitions.

"There is no intention to close it to thepublic," Machinist said. "The main collectionswill have to be organized better."

The committee's recommendations to reallocatesome of the collection to other museums does notendanger access of both Harvard members and thepublic to the collections the museum presentlyholds, said James Cuno, Cabot director of theHarvard University art museums.

"Every exhibition and every program will beopen to the public and will reflect the academicorientation of the museum," Cuno said yesterday."The museum's primary responsibility is to thefaculty and students at Harvard."

But staff members yesterday remained criticalof a move that they see drastically cutting thepublic sphere of the museum which has existedsince 1903.

"I can't quite fathom that report," Gavin said."This is a very hard day for museums.

Father Carney Gavin, the museum's curator andexecutive director, said last night that the banplaced on the museum's fundraising during lastyear's review thwarted the staff's efforts tosolicit much-needed donations.

"We were forbidden to raise funds so we couldclose for lack of funds," Gavin said.

But committee members attacked Peretz' letterlast night, saying it inaccurately representedtheir intentions the recommendations made in theirreport.

"It's very disturbing to see the number offallacies and innuendoes of anti-Semitism whichare entirely misplaced," Professor of Near EasternLanguages and Civilizations Peter B. Machinistsaid last night.

Machinist, who was a member of the committeereviewing the museum, said the fundraisingrestrictions were not a ban, rather a temporarymeasure requiring new fundraising for the museumto be authorized by the director.

But staff members also charge that therecommendations of the advisory committee--chairedby Stager--to restructure the museum towards amore academic focus are evidence of the director'slong-standing aversion to the museum's publicfacets.

"Before he moved to Cambridge fromChicago...[Stager] said to me `I'm not sure thatthe museum should stay open," Curator for ExhibitsNitza Rosovsky said last night. "He certainlynever took an active interest in the museum."

Stager defended himself yesterday, saying thatwhen he came as director, the existing deficit wasalready a cause for worry.

"I was hopeful for the museum. Otherwise, Iwouldn't have taken the job," Stager said. "Butthe deficit was a substantial concern...and itcontinued to grow."

The review of the museum, however, was promptedmainly by the need to revise the mission of themuseum so that it would better serve theeducational needs of Harvard students and faculty,committee members said yesterday.

"The issue of the growing deficit madeattention to the mission more essential,"Machinist said.

Committee members said that, despite this newacademic focus, the museum will continue to housecollections and sponsor exhibitions.

"There is no intention to close it to thepublic," Machinist said. "The main collectionswill have to be organized better."

The committee's recommendations to reallocatesome of the collection to other museums does notendanger access of both Harvard members and thepublic to the collections the museum presentlyholds, said James Cuno, Cabot director of theHarvard University art museums.

"Every exhibition and every program will beopen to the public and will reflect the academicorientation of the museum," Cuno said yesterday."The museum's primary responsibility is to thefaculty and students at Harvard."

But staff members yesterday remained criticalof a move that they see drastically cutting thepublic sphere of the museum which has existedsince 1903.

"I can't quite fathom that report," Gavin said."This is a very hard day for museums.

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