The family whose name adorns the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University has demanded that the facility remain a public art museum and that the school refrain from selling its works.

Fifty members of the Rose family issued a statement on Monday protesting what they called the "plundering" of the museum.

"The art has been put on the auction block. The museum has been put on the chopping block. We object," said the statement, which was issued before a symposium on the issue held on the Brandeis campus.

A news release from the school in January said it would "close the museum" and "publicly sell the art collection." But university president Jehuda Reinharz later clarified the statement, saying that while the Rose may no longer be a public museum, offering exhibits and paid admission to people who want to browse its galleries, it would remain open with a focus on serving the school's educational needs, with more exhibits by students and faculty.

The family urged Reinharz and trustees to restore the budget, staffing and activities of the facility.

"Repurposing the museum is closing by another name," it said. "It would not be the Rose."

Brandeis provost Marty Krauss said in a statement Monday night that the role of the museum would be determined by the recommendations of a committee established by the school's board of trustees. The Rose Committee was scheduled to hold its first meeting Thursday.

Krauss said the museum "will remain open with a desired goal of being more fully integrated into the university's core educational museum."

The museum, which opened in 1961, has about 7,000 objects of modern and contemporary art, including works by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

The family's statement said Ed and Bertha Rose funded construction of the art museum and created three funds separate from the university's endowment.

The Roses came to found the museum through Ed's close friendship with Brandeis' first president, Abe Sacker, who "had a vision" for a museum at the university, said Margo Cooper, a great-grandniece of Ed Rose. Cooper was among the family members who attended Monday's meeting.

Ed Rose served on Brandeis' board of trustees and both he and Bertha Rose were interested in the arts, Cooper said. Rose emigrated to the Boston area from Russia with his parents as a young child and became a mattress manufacturer and philanthropist.

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