At Large  February 11, 2024  Rebecca Schiffman

Protest Forces The Museum of Modern Art to Shut Down

Via Wikimedia Commons

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Museum of Modern Art in New York shut its galleries unexpectedly this past Saturday, February 10, after hundreds of pro-Palestine protestors began a massive demonstration in the museum. 

Within fifteen minutes of the start of the protest and the ensuing activities—which included raising banners, chanting, and holding peaceful sit-ins with approximately 500 to 800 people—the galleries were closed and security guards turned visitors at the door away. According to Alexa Blair Wilkinson, a photojournalist at the protest, no arrests were made at MoMA.

The MoMA protest coincided with another demonstration in support of Palestine outside the Brooklyn Museum, organized by Within Our Lifetime Palestine. Four protesters were arrested at the Brooklyn protest, according to Hyperallergic.

At MoMA, it has been reported by various sources that at around 3:30 p.m., protesters began to hand out fake museum guides to visitors. According to social media, the guides read, “It breaks our hearts that genocide is what brings us together. We are gathered here at MoMA, on the 126th day of the escalated genocide in Gaza, in solidarity with the Palestinian people, to call for an end to Western culture’s complicity in genocide, apartheid, and settler colonialism.” It continued, “While MoMA purports ideologies of “change” and “creativity,” the Board of Trustees directly fund zionist occupation via arms manufacturing, lobbying, and corporate investment.” The guides called out five of the museum’s trustees—Leon Black, Larry Fink, Paul Crown, Marie-Josée Kravis, and Ronald S. Lauder—who, as the pamphlets allege, support and invest in Israeli military weaponry and technology, among other things. 

Posts on Instagram show the various banners that were displayed by protesters. The largest banner that hung over the side of the second-floor atrium read “MoMA Trustees Fund Genocide Apartheid & Settler Colonialism.” Other banners were held up by protestors that read “Cultural Workers Stand with Gaza” and “More than 27,000 Palestinians Killed.” 

Both protests at the MoMA and the Brooklyn Museum come after an open letter from New York museum and cultural workers was published online in support of Palestine. The letter calls for a free Palestine and a permanent ceasefire, as well as advocating for the demands outlined by the Palestinian Youth Movement. Above all, the letter calls out museums and cultural institutions whose “silence has rendered them complicit in the killing of over 27,000 people in Palestine,” alleging that this “silence speaks to their commitment to capital above human life.”

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