MoMA Staffers Urge the Museum to Support an ‘Unconditional Ceasefire’ in Gaza

The demand follows other pro-Palestine and climate protests at the museum.

The Museum of Modern Art, 2019. Photo: Kena Betancur/VIEWpress.

After a massive protest shut down the Museum of Modern Art in New York over the weekend, dozens of MoMA employees have asked the institution to support an unconditional ceasefire in Gaza as Israel’s war continues to cause a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave.

The employees penned an open letter requesting that the museum stand in solidarity with Palestinians “as they confront violence, colonial occupation, and apartheid.” So far, 48 current employees have signed the letter, joined by hundreds more former employees, museum members, donors, and artists.

Following Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, which killed around 1,200 people, most of them civilians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has led an ongoing military campaign in Gaza that has led to the death of nearly 30,000 people and the displacement of a million more.

“We firmly believe that the ongoing crisis there must be recognized as genocide and addressed with such urgency. Furthermore, we seek to rally our colleagues globally within the cultural field to actively participate in and support this urgent movement,” the letter read.

The MoMA workers said Israel’s campaign has led to limited essential services, including access to healthcare, clean water, food, and education. The workers called the psychological and emotional toll on the Palestinian people “immeasurable” as they deal with the trauma of a “continuous cycle of violence.”

“The gravity of the situation weighs heavily on our hearts, and the absence of a collective acknowledgment or response from our institution adds to the difficulty,” the open letter read. “Working amidst the profound silence of our institution in the face of the ongoing crisis in Gaza has become increasingly challenging for us as employees.”

Further, the employees have asked the museum to commit to either the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) in its entirety or conduct a thorough and transparent review of PACBI to develop its own set of guiding principles.

The release of the letter came just days after pro-Palestine protesters gathered at the MoMA and passed out pamphlets noting the ties of five museum trustees to Israeli weapons and surveillance technology. Those trustees included Leon Black, the private equity billionaire with ties to Jeffrey Epstein, as well as Larry Fink, Paula Crown, Marie-Josée Kravis, and Ronald S. Lauder.

Another crowd of pro-Palestine protesters had also gathered at the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, February 10, leading to the arrest of 10 people and another person who received a court summons.

Meanwhile, climate change protesters also demonstrated at the MoMA this week to demand the museum oust board chair Marie-Josée Kravis over ties to fossil fuel projects, Hyperallergic first reported. It follows a similar protest by activists last year, calling for the museum to drop Kravis, whose husband co-founded the Kohlberg Kravis Roberts private equity firm, a stakeholder in the Coastal GasLink Pipeline.

On February 14, about a dozen climate demonstrators showed up at the MoMA, wearing shirts demanding, “MoMA Drop KKR” and “MoMA Dump Kravis.” “Our planet is drowning!” read a pamphlet passed out by the protesters. “Why won’t MoMA dump billionaire climate criminals?”

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