The Museum of Modern Art barred protesters from entering the museum on Friday afternoon after a march intended to draw attention to what protesters say was the undue influence of wealthy patrons on the values and programming of the cultural institution.
The museum said it was forced to close the doors when protesters tried to force their way into the museum. “In response, museum security personnel closed the entrance in accordance with established security protocols,” the museum said in a statement.
The museum’s statement said two guards were injured by protesters in the crash. One of the demonstrators said she was beaten by a guard.
Protest organizers last week wrote to MoMA director Glenn Lowry calling the museum a “system of power and wealth that hurts people” while criticizing several board members for their financial investments. Leading among those named was billionaire Leon Black, who announced in March that he would step down as museum chairman after widespread pressure from artists and activists over his links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein .
“We want to take over these institutions; they don’t belong to the oligarchs, ”Amin Husain, one of the protest organizers, told a crowd of around 40 activists before walking from Columbus Circle to the museum.
Husain had previously helped organize nine weeks of protests at the Whitney Museum, which ended with the resignation of former board member Warren B. sold law enforcement and military supplies, including teargas.
The Strike MoMA campaign, which is expected to last 10 weeks until June 11, involves a coalition of militant groups that call themselves the international imagination of anti-national anti-imperialist sentiments. Their goals are to dismantle the museum hierarchy, which they accuse of polishing the reputations of wealthy donors through art.
Ahead of the protest, a MoMA spokeswoman said protesters, if they had tickets and adopted a Covid-19 screening protocol, would be allowed into the museum lobby.
In an email to staff earlier this month, Lowry said the museum “respects the right to protest,” but added: “I don’t agree that the dismantling of MoMA, or any museum, serves the public’s best interests. ”
During the protest, museum visitors stood in the lobby, watching the confrontation in the street with worry and confusion. Two people who identified themselves as museum employees walked out of the building, saying they were frustrated because museum officials said at a staff meeting earlier this week that protesters would be allowed in.
“These attempts to stop us are in vain,” said Shellyne Rodriguez, an eight-year former MoMA educator and now affiliated with the protest group. “What Glenn Lowry has done is put his employees between a rock and a hard place.”
The museum said in its statement that the protesters had shown “total disregard for the safety and well-being of our staff and visitors” by trying to “force their entry, en masse, into the museum”.