A US university is being forced by the sagging economy to close its celebrated museum of modern art and sell off its 8,000-piece collection, which includes works by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, it said in a statement.
"Brandeis University's board of trustees has voted unanimously to close the Rose Art Museum as part of a campus-wide effort to preserve the university's educational mission in the face of the historic economic recession and financial crisis," the statement said on Tuesday.
The museum will close in "late summer 2009" and the art collection will be sold through a top auction house, the statement said.
Proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in the Massachusetts-based university "to combat the far-reaching effects of the economic crisis and fortify the university's position for the future."
The decision to close the museum was forced on Brandeis by the "extraordinary economic times", the liberal arts university's president Jehuda Reinharz said.
"We cannot control or fix the nation's economic problems. We can only do what we have been entrusted to do -- act responsibly with the best interests of our students and their futures foremost in mind," he said.
Michael Rush, director of the museum, valued the collection at around $350 million dollars.
The announced closure of the museum, which was inaugurated in 1961, came as "a total surprise and shock" to Rush and other museum staff, the director of the museum told AFP.
"We weren't asked to attend the meeting" last week, where the decision was made, Rush said.