Marciano Art Foundation Names Hanneke Skerath Director, Years After Suddenly Closing Amid Union Drive

Skerath has long been an independent curator on the Los Angeles scene.

Curator Douglas Fogle, Hanneke Skerath and guest attend the Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2014 opening night at Barker Hangar on January 30, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. Courtesy Getty Images.

Los Angeles’s Marciano Art Foundation has named independent curator Hanneke Skerath as its new director, nearly five years after abruptly shutting its doors. The move came following layoffs of at least 60 staffers that took place as front-of-house staff were attempting to unionize. The private museum had opened a mere three years before and had “no present plans” to reopen at the time, it said, citing low attendance as a reason for the closure. 

“I’m excited to join the Marciano Art Foundation as Director, and I look forward to collaborating with the team to continue to expand and exhibit the collection and to explore new creative opportunities for the Foundation’s unique spaces,” Skerath said in a press release.

Skerath has spent years in the curatorial and publishing trenches, busily organizing shows and contributing to books. She and Douglas Fogle, her partner in a curatorial outfit called LBV, organized a 2016-17 group show at L.A.’s Kayne Griffin and a 2021 Luisa Lambri solo at Thomas Dane in Naples. They also published a 2021 book on the collection of Chara Schreyer, and in 2023 they both contributed to a volume on Raoul De Keyser. 

Paul Marciano (left) and Maurice Marciano. Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GUESS?.

Paul Marciano (left) and Maurice Marciano. Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GUESS?.

On view now, per the foundation’s website, is “Transmissions: Selections from the Marciano Collection,” curated by Skerath and Fogle, which features some 57 artists including Louise Bourgeois, Mark Bradford, David Hammons, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Deana Lawson, Mark Leckey, Sherrie Levine, Thomas Struth, Rosemarie Trockel, Kaari Upson, and Christopher Wool.

Skerath will lead the foundation’s “efforts to lend its historic Wilshire Boulevard building to non-profit organizations and various other creatives to realize unique projects and public programs on an ongoing basis,” a press representative told ARTnews. “This new direction will allow MAF to operate under this renewed commitment to the public.” Skerath will advise on staffing needs, the rep added. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Hanneke Skerath to the Marciano Art Foundation,” ex-artistic director Olivia Marciano told ARTnews. “As we place our focus on fostering a collaborative creative environment for the Los Angeles community, Hanneke’s extensive experience could not be more fitting. In her years working in L.A. she has worked across both traditional and unconventional contexts, demonstrating her distinct talent to realize projects that prioritize collaboration, insight, and rigor.”

Fashion tycoons Maurice and Paul Marciano, co-founders of the Guess fashion brand, opened with a splash in 2017, having amassed some 1,500 works of contemporary art over a decade of collecting.

Labor organizers immediately filed a complaint after the 2019 closure, saying that the foundation had “illegally discriminated against its employees.”

“[The museum closure] shows that they would rather shut down a ‘public service’ institution than raise wages a dime—or raise pay a dime above minimum wage,” one of the laid-off workers, Spencer Longo, told the Los Angeles Times. Visitor services staff at the museum received a minimum wage of $14.25 an hour.

In settling the class-action lawsuit the following July, the foundation agreed to pay a total of $205,000, or 10 weeks of severance, to the 70 visitor services associates, as well as $70,000 in legal fees; the union, District Council 36, agreed to drop its unfair labor practices complaint.

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