Art Market

The Guggenheim Museum will conduct an independent investigation into the institution’s practices.

Justin Kamp
Jul 6, 2020 4:55PM, via New York Times

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Image via Flickr

The Guggenheim Museum’s board of directors has hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the museum’s practices during its 2019 Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition, according to the New York Times. The circumstances surrounding the exhibition came under scrutiny after the show’s guest curator Chaédria LaBouvier, who was the first Black curator in the Guggenheim’s history, accused chief curator and artistic director Nancy Spector of creating a hostile work environment, repeatedly belittling LaBouvier’s work and attempting to bar her from speaking to the press. In a tweet posted last month, LaBouvier stated that working with the museum’s leadership was “the most racist professional experience of [her] life.”

LaBouvier’s experiences were echoed in an open letter from the museum’s curatorial department, which accused museum leadership of creating “an inequitable work environment that enables racism, white supremacy, and other discriminatory practices.” Another letter, signed by 171 current and former employees, followed shortly after, accusing the museum of a refusal “to take accountability for the violence and injustice inflicted upon its BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) constituents.”

The independent investigation comes as part of the signees’ 22-point outline to correct the museum’s biases. In addition to the investigation, these points include mandatory anti-racist training, an overhaul of the museum’s current whisteblower system, and a new director-level position focused on racial equality. According to the New York Times, the museum’s board of directors confirmed in a statement that they would be pursuing a more equitable staff makeup.

The statement read, in part:

The time for these actions is long overdue. [. . .] The board is undertaking a review of all structures and policies to ensure that no person is bullied, mistreated, disrespected or discriminated against in any way.
Justin Kamp
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