Kate Fowle, the Well-Liked Director of MoMA PS1, Resigns Suddenly After Just Three Years in the Post

The unexplained departure has left many in the New York art world looking for answers.

Kat Fowle, director of MoMA PS1. Photo by James Hill.

In a surprising move, MoMA PS1’s director Kate Fowle has announced she is leaving the Queens museum on 15 July, after serving for only three years, and giving no reason for her sudden departure.

“This has been an extraordinary opportunity to lead MoMA PS1 over the last (nearly) three years and to work with all of you alongside our Board, patrons, and funders,” she said in an email to museum staff according to the New York Times. “I want you to know that I have deep respect and admiration for you all, and that I am incredibly proud of all the work we have achieved together.”

Fowle took up the post in 2019, and most of her time so far has been spent steering the small museum through the pandemic. But just two months ago, she gave an interview to the New York Times detailing her plans to make PS1 more independent from MoMA, its larger cousin in Manhattan. Among her goals, Fowle said she wanted to focus on PS1’s more progressive programming and reach out to the Queens community.

Founded in 1976 as an experimental art space in a former public school building in Long Island City, PS1 merged with MoMA in 2000, and has been under the larger museum’s control since. MoMA provides 25 percent of PS1’s operating costs, including 15 percent of discretionary giving from their trustees and other affiliates.

Although no official reason was given for Fowle’s departure, an unnamed source told the New York Times that she had expressed difficulty in managing her role to MoMA PS1’s chairwoman Sarah Arison and MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry. After Fowle steps down this summer, the museum will be temporarily led by a team headed up by deputy director Jose Ortiz director of external affairs Molly Kurzius and curator Ruba Katrib, overseen by Arison and Lowry.

“Kate has piloted innovative models of community engagement, diversified the uses of the building and its courtyard to connect more deeply with Queens and New York communities, and strengthened PS1’s commitment and role as an artist-centric institution,” Arison said in a statement. “We all have so much admiration and respect for Kate, including her incredible work ethic and artistic vision.”

Fowle will see through her role as co-curator on a show by Daniel Lind-Ramos slated for April 2023. She joined PS1 from the Garage Museum in Moscow, where was the inaugural chief curator for six years.

“I am grateful for everything she has done for MoMA PS1 and wish her great success in whatever she takes on next,” Lowry said in an email.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.