Who Are the People Protesting at the Museum of Modern Art and What Do They Want?

Workers are making their struggle visible online.

Carolyn, Giampaolo, Athena, three of the faces of #WeAreMoMA

Tomorrow, the Museum of Modern Art is back at the negotiating table with its own workers.

Disputes between the museum and the union that represents its professional staff erupted into public last week during the MoMA’s swanky Party in the Garden, as hundreds of workers demonstrated outside—a good percentage of the 280-some workers affected by the contract. Issues include low pay and maternity leave—especially compared to director Glenn Lowry’s massive salary—but center particularly on the gigantic museum’s proposal to weaken healthcare benefits.

MoMA workers hold a banner at a protest on Tuesday night

MoMA workers hold a banner at a protest on Tuesday night
Photo: @momalocal2110 Instagram

“The demonstration may have been a whole lot more effective than we realized but that doesn’t automatically translate into a significant move from them,” Daniel Fermon, who is on the negotiating committee, told artnet News. “It’s going to take a whole lot more, I think.”

Since that first protest, Local 2110 has continued to make its cause visible via its #WeAreMoMA campaign on the union’s Instagram. The images give a personal sense of the staff that make the museum run—registrars, archivists, librarians, curatorial assistants, and retail workers among them—but to whom the average tourist probably gives little real thought. They also give a sense of the spirit of solidarity between the different types of workers on the line, and often use MoMA’s art to make their case.

The current contract with the museum expired on May 20. Both sides agreed to extend its terms—including the “no strike” clause—for one month, until June 20, which now represents the de facto deadline for negotiations.

Below, just some of the many faces of #WeAreMoMA:

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