Valparaiso University wants to sell off many of its artworks, but students and faculty disagree.
Valparaiso University, a Lutheran institution in Indiana, has a robust art collection in the Brauer Museum of Art on their campus. Among their nearly 3000 pieces are several works by Georgia O’Keeff, Dale Chijuly, Andy Warhol, and Ansel Adams.
On February 8th, José Padilla, president of the university, sent a campuswide email announcing the planned sale of several of the museum’s works of art.
The sale would support “our core mission of educating students and giving them an optimal residential life experience” by planning for a “first-year residential complex” with “amenities and features that prospective students value and expect,” according to Padilla’s email.
“We intend to pay for this initiative through a practice we will use for other parts of the strategic plan. We will consider assets and resources that are not core or critical to our educational mission and strategic plan, and reallocate them to support the plan. In this instance, we intend to pay for the much-needed dorm renovations by using the proceeds from the sale of select paintings from the campus art museum.”
Last year, Valparaiso released a strategic plan to increase the school’s appeal to new students. It also mentioned dorm renovations, but didn’t mention selling any of the school’s art collection.
Gretchen Buggeln, a professor of art history and the humanities who is also on the collections committee for the Brauer Museum, said it’s “completely beyond the pale to use an arts collection as an ATM.”
The sale is not imminent, though which paintings will go has been decided. There is more research to be done before any sales could be completed. However, the dorm renovations are expected to begin this summer, so they can be completed for the 2023/24 incoming class.