Facts about the Butler and Rockwell artwork
Many people who have written letters disapproving of the Butler’s decision not to rush into borrowing the Boy Scouts’ collection of paintings simply do not know the facts. The collection consists of nearly 400 works, only 66 of which are by Norman Rockwell. All of the Rockwells have to do with aspects of Scouting. When a museum accepts the loan of artwork, the museum is responsible for the cost of transportation, coming and going. The museum must also pay all insurance costs in transit and while housing the work. The Boy Scouts will not separate out the Rockwell paintings; they require the Butler to take the entire multi-million-dollar collection — even though the Butler has no place to display the entire collection and would have to pay for climate-controlled storage for everything not on display.
The Butler’s charter prohibits it from charging even one penny for admission, so where is all this money to come from? None of the facts above have anything to do with morality. However, the BSA has considered declaring bankruptcy in the face of sexual abuse lawsuits. If bankruptcy were to occur, the art collection would have to be returned immediately, so we wouldn’t even have the benefit keeping it for the entire term of the loan. I hope this brings some clarity to the controversy. The Butler Institute of American Art continues to be a well-run cultural treasure for all of us.