On Thursday night, MoMA
hung works by artists from three of the seven countries impacted by President Donald Trump’s travel ban, replacing artists like
with works by Iraqi-born
and Sudanese painter
, among others. The move has been roundly praised by critics and observers as a strong political statement from an institution that is often seen as taking a neutral position. The re-hang quickly garnered a positive and emotional response from art-world insiders, visitors, and at least one employee who could be found strolling through the galleries today.
The newly installed works are accompanied by wall texts explaining that their artists hail from the majority-Muslim nations affected by Trump’s executive order, which, though temporarily stayed by a federal judge, continues to be the subject of fierce protest. And though ’s Starry Night
hanging opposite a Hadid drawing, remains a tourist favorite, some are paying visits to the museum especially to see the late architect’s work, and others that are freshly installed.
“That’s why we came here today, to support this show,” said Hiwot Woldu, standing in front of Hadid’s painting The Peak Project, Hong Kong, China (1991). An Ethiopian-born New Yorker, Woldu was happy to see MoMA step beyond its traditional remit. “It’s encouraging to see that museums and places that are normally relatively neutral are taking a chance and showing what they are supporting,” she said. The accompanying wall text is unambiguous, if nonpartisan, stating that the work stands to “affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to this Museum, as they are to the United States.”