Queens Museum Director Declines to Factor Remark on Gaza


On November 12, demonstrators created an altar in entrance of the Queens Museum in honor of the Palestinians within the Gaza Strip who’ve been killed via Israeli forces since October 7. (all pictures used with permission)

An audio recording of a gathering between Queens Museum group of workers and management supplied to Hyperallergic finds opposing perspectives of the museum’s duty to deal with Israel’s ongoing assaults on Gaza. In her dialog with 5 employees who requested the establishment to free up a commentary about Palestine, Director Sally Tallant explains that the museum can’t achieve this as it “isn’t in a position to make political statements.”

The assembly the day prior to this, November 16, adopted a collective letter signed via 17 Queens Museum staff final month calling on museum management to reckon with its development’s historical past because the web site of the United International locations 1947 vote to undertake Solution 181 (II), consistent with inside emails verified via Hyperallergic. In a different way referred to as the UN Partition Plan for Palestine, this answer divided Palestine into two Jewish and Arab states when Nice Britain’s Palestinian mandate expired. Amongst many Israelis, this vote is still celebrated as the primary legitimization of Israel at the international degree. However for Palestinians, the partition is remembered because the catalyst for the 1948 Nakba (which means “disaster” in Arabic) that expelled 700,000 Palestinians from their place of birth. 

Whilst the Queens Museum has a plaque commemorating that the UN Basic Meeting met in what was once then referred to as the New York Town Development, and makes basic point out of this on its web page, the establishment does now not check with the vote’s affect on Palestinians.

Additionally, a number of staffers who signed onto the collective letter and took part in an October 20 strike in enhance of Palestine, who’ve requested to stay nameless, have described an environment of “heightened surveillance” in fresh weeks, alleging intimidation via museum management within the type of one-on-one conferences with out their direct supervisors. Per week after the commentary and strike, the museum additionally applied using paintings telephones for workers, consistent with staffers. After the employees circulated the collective letter and speak to to signal directly to the strike by way of the museum’s electronic mail server, the director answered in an electronic mail that such movements have been “violative of Queens Museum insurance policies” together with “anti-harassment” and “solicitation and distribution” on corporate time. One worker has additionally resigned from their place, as showed via Hyperallergic.

The museum’s plaque acknowledges the development’s historical past as the previous headquarters for the United International locations.

The new assembly finds that the cultural establishment continues to refuse to recognize how the vote’s legacy nonetheless actively harms Palestinians lately. In her reaction to the employees, who’ve requested to stay nameless, Tallant invokes the establishment’s nonprofit standing in addition to the museum’s bylaws and the American Alliance of Museums’ Code of Ethics.

When staff requested why those bylaws and ethics codes didn’t lengthen to the museum’s 2020 public commentary right through the Black Lives Topic protests, Tallant spoke back via announcing that this announcement was once “written as a dedication.”

“We felt that in truth as a museum shall we do one thing … very deliberately, which was once that we will be able to have an effect on alternate in our running stipulations, our group of workers, the make-up of our board,” Tallant mentioned. 

The employees additionally identified the Queens Museum hosts a meals pantry, an instance of a focal point on social justice and supporting traditionally marginalized folks, and argued that the museum has the chance to make tangible motion via contextualizing its plaque commemorating the 1947 vote with more information. In addition they famous that the establishment has a residing land acknowledgment in its development and on its web page.

Alternatively, Tallant reiterated that the Queens Museum “can’t make a commentary as a result of our standing as a nonprofit establishment, as a result of we’re a museum and it’s not our process.”

“The place is our commentary on Ukraine? The place is our commentary on Congo?” Tallant continues, including that despite the fact that the museum can’t factor a commentary expressing cohesion with Palestine, it will possibly proceed to interact with this factor and different so-called political issues via its programming.

The Queens Museum has now not but spoke back to Hyperallergic’s request for remark.

Demonstrators held up an indication on November 12 calling out the Queens Museum development’s historical past because the web site the place the UN Partition Plan for Palestine was once followed.

Based in 1972, the Queens Museum is situated in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in one of the crucial ethnically various neighborhoods on the earth, and its venture commentary says that the museum strives to be “open, responsive, inclusive, and empathetic.” Tallant, who was once prior to now creative director of the Liverpool Biennial in the UK and head of methods at London’s Serpentine Galleries, was once appointed president and govt director of the Queens Museum in 2019.

In overdue 2017, the museum hosted a debatable reenactment of the UN Partition vote after succumbing to force from Israeli and New York politicians who accused the museum of antisemitism for first of all canceling the development. A commemoration of Israel’s seventieth anniversary, the development adopted former Governor Cuomo’s still-in impact govt order requiring state businesses to divest all public finances from establishments and corporations in enhance of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) motion. Former Queens Museum Director Laura Raicovich stepped down from her position within the wake of the debate, prompting curators, artists, and teachers to signal an open letter in enhance of the culturally and politically engaged programming below her management.



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