As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, hundreds of people gathered inside the Museum of Modern Art and outside of the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday for protests.
Images and videos posted on Instagram show several banners unfurled inside MoMA’s atrium. The banners said “Free Palestine, From the River to the Sea”, “Ceasefire Now”, “Cultural Workers Stand with Gaza” and accusing members of the institution’s board of trustees of funding “genocide, apartheid” and “settler colonialism”.
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Around 3:30 p.m., protestors at MoMA handed out over 1,000 custom-printed mock museum guides calling out the museum’s board of trustees—Leon Black, Larry Fink, Paula Crown, Marie-Josée Kravis, and Ronald S. Lauder. The printed statement said “While MoMA purports ideologies of ‘change’ and ‘creativity,’ the Board of Trustees directly fund Zionist occupation via arms manufacturing, lobbying, and corporate investment. At the same time, the museum derives its legitimacy from artists and cultural workers, including those actively engaged in anti-colonial struggle”.
Fink is the CEO of multinational investment corporation BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, with $9.42 billion in assets. It has been criticized in the past for its investments in arms and defense. Black, meanwhile, is the founder of private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which owns a defense and security company.
After activist protests in 2021, Black stepped down as chairman and chief executive of Apollo Global Management after a review of his donations to Jeffrey Epstein. The ARTnews Top 200 Collector also stepped down as chairman of MoMA’s board that year.
Journalist Afeef Nassouli, a producer for the Wall Street Journal, spoke to a woman named Ariel, who identified themselves as a member of the grassroots political group ACT UP New York—originally formed in response to the AIDS crisis— about how she personally led an affinity group of anti-Zionist Jews, artists, and ACT UP members to the protest at MoMA “because we are all here to take a stand against genocide.”
According to an Instagram post by Alexa Blair Wilkinson, a photojournalist and graphic designer who attended the protest, no arrests were made and the sit-in dispersed around 6pm.
The protest at MoMA was organized by the Writers Against the War on Gaza and the New York chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement. A statement read out loud by protestors said “This action builds on the work of Strike MoMA, Gulf Labor, Art Workers Coalition, and more broadly, on resistance movements including the undying fight for Black Liberation, prison abolition, and Indigenous sovereignty.”
Estimates of the crowd of protestors at the Museum of Modern Art ranged from “more than 500” to “more than 800” people.
Earlier on Saturday, Within Our Lifetime, a grassroots Palestinian-led community organization, held a preotest at the Brooklyn Museum.
Photographer Stephanie Keith posted on Instagram that “NYPD made about 10 arrests while the protest was in front of the Museum including @protestnsurvive who is a credentialed member of New York City media.”
MoMA and the Brooklyn Museum did not respond to ARTnews‘ requests for comment. Writers Against The War on Gaza said in an email statement, “WAWOG does not give comment to publications owned by Penske Media.”