Resignation comes days after museum director stepped down
The reenactment of the 1947 UN Partition vote on Palestine that was hosted by Israel at the Queens Museum last November continues to divide the leadership of the museum. This past weekend, board trustee Kristian Nammack tendered his resignation in a short letter to his colleagues.
“This action is in opposition to the human rights abuses of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and of the human rights abuses of Mike Pence and the entire Trump administration as warned today in the annual report by Human Rights Watch.” Having been opposed to the Israeli-sponsored reenactment, Nammack was further incensed that the star speaker was Vice President Pence, who used religious references in expressing his support for Israel and defended recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Nammack’s politically charged resignation follows that of museum director Laura Raicovich, whose parting words did not mention the recent controversy. A financial services consultant and artist, Nammack promotes socially-inspired investing through his Intentional Endowments Network. Among his better-known causes are the grassroots Occupy Sandy and the AIDS advocacy organization Act-Up.
A separate letter of support for Raicovich was penned over the weekend by some 40 individuals associated with art institutions across the country, with a few from abroad. Their letter hinted at a separate political controversy involving Queens Museum. Art News reported that the museum’s board had disagreed with her decision to cancel regular programming at the museum on January 20, 2017, as part of a nationwide artists’ strike against President Donald Trump’s inauguration. “There are so many big things that art and culture have to contend with that are so wrong in the world,” Raicovich said in an interview with The New York Times. “That’s where my focus and energy needs to be.”
Art is by nature a subject of controversy, liked by some and disliked by others, but never before in the history of the Queens Museum has a director or trustee been as politically divisive. The ex-officio trustees of this publicly-funded museum include the Mayor, Council Speaker, Borough President, Parks Commissioner, and Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, the latter being a former director of the museum.
By Sergey Kadinsky