The Brookline Arts Center honors and remembers our founders, Barney and Mim Berliner. Barney and Mim, together with a group of their friends, founded the Brookline Arts Center in 1964 as a small parent cooperative for children’s art classes in the basement of their Brookline home. The Berliners worked to fulfill a mission to provide quality art classes taught by professional artists to students of all ages in Brookline and surrounding communities.
Barney Berliner passed away on December 19, 2020 at the age of 95.
“Art is life,” Barney shared in his artist statement from a 2015 exhibition at the BAC, “and in every era artists reflect through their skills and philosophy what we are going through…My own feeling is that there is enough trouble in the world and I want to bring more humor and happiness for us to reflect on.”
Barnett Bernard Berliner was born January 1, 1925 on the Lower East Side of New York to his shoemaker father Harry and loving homemaker-mother Gertrude. After serving the US Army during World War II, he returned to New York to study architecture at The Cooper Union, where he met his beshert and wife of over 70 years, Marilyn Ada (Mim). He then moved to Boston for his graduate education in architecture at MIT and Harvard. A teacher, architect, artist and entrepreneur, he was a passionate supporter of the arts.
Barney lived each day of his life with zest, innate generosity and unbridled creativity, and always with deep pleasure in art and humor. A sweet and loving father, he consistently encouraged his children to pursue whatever made them happy. A practical joker, storyteller and artist, he was a unique and self-invented man who inspired many along his journey.
Marilyn “Mim” Ada (Klein) Berliner passed away on February 20, 2021 at the age of 93.
“Mim’s compassion, hospitality and generosity, and her deep belief in making opportunities for creativity accessible to all, will continue to inspire us always,” her daughters, Susan and Nancy, shared.
Born on July 17, 1927 to Zelda, an office administrator, and Abraham, a rare book dealer, Mim grew up in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, she traveled uptown with her violin by subway for lessons, attended Erasmus High School, and later received her BA in Psychology from Brooklyn College. After meeting her beshert, Barney, over an office machine needing repair at Cooper Union, where she was working and he was a student, they married and moved to Boston. They later moved to Brookline, where they made their home for the rest of their lives and where their daughters Susan and Nancy were born and raised. Mim attended the Boston University School of Social Work, where she received her MSW and worked for many years at Beth Israel Medical Center, where she loved her work.
Passionate about the arts, she and Barney, together with several friends, developed the vision for and then started the Brookline Arts Center. Working initially as a volunteer, she subsequently became the Executive Director. Among the many contributions she made was the development of ways to make art classes accessible to more people, melding her passion for the arts and social justice. She will be remembered as a loving and supportive mother and for her love of her morning coffee, her creative and gourmet cooking, warm smile, hospitality and generosity, talents as a skilled and compassionate listener and confidante. A world traveler, she and Barney welcomed many people from around the world into their home and lives.
Mim and Barney will be profoundly missed by their loving family, caregivers and friends. We are so grateful for the impact they made on all our lives and the Town of Brookline. May their memory always be a blessing. Our thoughts, prayers and love are with their family.