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Culture Strike

A leading activist museum director explains why museums are at the center of a political storm.

As director of the Queens Museum, Laura Raicovich helped turn that New York municipal institution into a center of activist art, organizing high-powered exhibitions that were also political protests. Then in January, 2018, she abruptly resigned, after a dispute with the Queens Museum board and city officials became a public controversy--she had objected to the Israeli government using the museum for a political event featuring vice president Mike Pence.

Raicovich's exit was only one of a string of political controversies involving museums, directors, and curators. Her resignation was followed by the firing, for example, of MOCA LA's Helen Molesworth and the firing of María Inés Rodriguez by the Bordeaux Contemporary Art Museum. And protests of museum funding (for example, the Guggenheim accepting Sackler family money) and boards (for example, the Whitney appointing tear gas manufacturer Warren Kanders)--to say nothing of demonstrations over artworks--have roiled museums in recent years. Paperback, 208 pages.

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