Council Condemns Museum Closing

Resolution Praises Semitic Exhibits

The Cambridge City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday praising the public programs of Harvard's Semitic Museum and urging President Neil L. Rudenstine to ensure the continuation of the museum's services to the community.

The resolution states that the University's decision to close the Semitic Museum "will be another in a continuing series of affronts to the people of Cambridge by Harvard University."

Harvard administrators have said that the museum will not close. Rather, they have recommended a reduction in its public exhibitions and a relocation of various collections.

Staff members and others who want to maintain the museum's public programs have said the reduction in exhibitions is tantamount to a closing of the museum, and Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, who presented the resolution to the Council, yesterday agreed.

"It could be, for all intents and purposes, closed if it has been restricted to faculty research," Toomey said last night. "It has cut what the museum has to offer."


A recent report by a faculty advisory committee redefined the mission of the Semitic Museum to focus more on the academic needs of Harvard's faculty and students. Following the report's recommendations, Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles fired ten museum staff members.

Toomey said the museum has been a valuable educational asset to theCambridge community since it reopened to thepublic in 1982.

"It fosters a greater understanding ofdifferent peoples," Toomey said. "Perhaps weshould have done a better job in letting peopleknow it's there.

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