Queens Museum director resigns

Laura Raicovich has resigned as director of Queens Museum.
Courtesy of Queens Museum/Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
By Gina Martinez

Queens Museum will be getting a new director.

Laura Raicovich resigned as the director on Jan. 26, and according to museum chairman Mark Coleman, the search for her replacement will begin immediately.

“Laura brought a vitality and dynamism to her work, and was fearless in exploring new ideas and perspectives through art,” he said. “Over the last three years, she produced several popular and critically acclaimed exhibitions and doubled the museum’s fund-raising capacity. The Board of Trustees will immediately begin an international search for a successor.”

Raicovich, who served as director for three years, generated some controversy during her tenure with political outspokenness.

On Jan. 20, 2017, the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Queens Museum was closed for visitors but open to the community for two hours for the “Sign of the Times” event, in which visitors could create signs to be used for protest.

Last August, she was called to resign by Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman Mike Simanowitz (D-Flushing) after the museum announced it was canceling a re-enactment of the vote to partition Palestine to form Israel on the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel.

The legislators called on the NYC Human Rights Commission to investigate Raicovich’s decision as a violation of Title 8 of the city’s Administrative Code, also known as the City Human Rights Law.

According to Lancman, the decision by the museum, a public accommodation, had represented a discriminatory refusal to provide full and equal enjoyment of its services based on religion and national origin, both protected classes under the law, as well as an unlawful boycott.

“We are deeply troubled that the museum’s executive director and president, Laura Raicovich, let her own personal support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement infect her decision making in this matter,” Lancman and Simanowitz said in a joint statement. “The celebration of the vote establishing the state of Israel is a recognition of a historic turning point at the site of the Queens Museum, and is profoundly meaningful to New York’s Jewish community. She has abused the trust placed in her by the people of the City of New York, who fund the museum as a cultural representation of Queens, the most diverse county in the United States.”

A few hours later, Queens Museum said the event was back on.

In a statement, Raicovich said she was deeply grateful for the opportunity to work at the museum and wished everyone who continued to work at the museum well.

“As the daughter of an immigrant to Queens, Queens Museum and the borough will always hold a very special place in my heart.” she said.

Reach Gina Martinez by email at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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