Protests Disrupt Guggenheim Museum International Gala

Protests disrupted the Guggenheim Museum’s International Gala, a black tie invitation-only affair held tonight inside the museum on 5th Avenue in New York. About a dozen or so people, mostly young, and wrapped in silver foil blankets stood in the cold and light rain outside the museum entrance holding banners and signs in support of international labor rights, banging cow bells, blowing horns, handing out pamphlets and chanting complaints against the museum as the dinner guests arrived. New York police officers were on hand but did not need to intervene since the protestors remained more or less peaceful if a clear annoyance to the museum staff and gala sponsors.

A spokesperson for the group said they were protesting labor abuses associated with the proposed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The museum says no building has yet begun and that if and when it does they will comply with international labor standards. Richard Armstrong, the museum’s director, has made it clear in interviews that the museum intends to honor its commitments, but apparently this has not mollified the protestors.

Sponsored by Dior, the International Gala is a major fundraiser for the museum (during the dinner speeches Armstrong announced they had raised already $2.1 million) and a highlight of the New York benefit and social calendar. It attracts many of the world’s most important art dealers and collectors and dinner tickets are highly sought after. This season, the museum was honoring artists Carrie Mae Weems, Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, Gunther Uecket and Wang Jianwei, all of who, excluding Piene, who is deceased, attended the reception and dinner.

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