Activist employee group demands resignations of three Guggenheim leaders


The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York

Three months after accusing the institution of racism, an activist coalition of current and former employees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York expanded its critique of the museum today and demanded that its director, chief operating officer and chief curator resign.

In a statement addressed to the museums board of trustees and staff and to their own allies, the group, called A Better Guggenheim, said that the director, Richard Armstrong; senior deputy director and chief operating officer, Elizabeth Duggal; and artistic director and chief curator, Nancy Spector, should be removed if they do not step down.

The group invokes a 29 June letter it submitted to the board listing 22 calls to action in response to the institutions “white dominant culture and toxic work environment.” “Nearly three months later,” it says in todays statement, “the board has yet to respond to our letter, or to our five follow-up messages, except to call our request for timely action unrealistic.”

However, the June letter ultimately drew 225 signatories, and the statement released today had none. It is therefore unclear how much employee support the group has for its demands. Contacted by email, A Better Guggenheim said only that its “organising group,” composed of current and former staff members across departments, composed the statement. Asked how many people that involved, the group replied by email: “Due to the museum's record of retaliation, we cannot confirm that information at this time.”

The document calls for the board to take “urgent” action by pursuing the three resignations. “Through their complacency, the board has demonstrated their support of leaderships negligent and oppressive behaviours,” the group writes. “It also betrays their belief that they bear no responsibility for the injury these behaviours cause to staff or the Guggenheims survival probability.”

A spokeswoman for the museum says it has no comment on the groups statement. Last month, the Guggenheim unveiled a plan to adjust its recruitment and hiring practices, seek a more diverse board, acquire more works by minority artists and reach out to a wider audience.

The statement presents a detailed indictment of the three targeted Guggenheim officials. It accuses Armstrong, who has led the museum since 2008, of “nurturing a culture of unchecked racism, sexism, and classism across all departments, levels, and locations associated with the Guggenheim”, sanctioning the berating of employees and the instilling of fear, and making “haughty, sexist comments”.

Duggal, the statement complains, abruptly introduced layoffs as “a first resort” to reduce operating costs within months of taking office in July 2018 and turned again to job cuts after the onset of the coronavirus paRead More – Source


the art news paper