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Photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

Laura Raicovich, the former director of the Queens Museum, resigned last month at the request of the museum’s board of directors after a three-month internal investigation found that she mishandled a controversial event last year, it was reported.

The investigation looked into the Queens Museum’s decision to initially refuse, then later agree to let the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations hold a celebration at the museum for the 70th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel. The initial refusal led to widespread criticism in the media and from local elected officials.

The investigation also showed misconduct by Queens Museum Deputy Director David Strauss, who was also asked to resign but ultimately was fired.

Conducted on a pro bono basis by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, the investigation found several areas of wrongdoing in its review of more than 6,000 museum emails, more than 20 interviews and additional research. The key findings of the report are as follows:

  • Raicovich allowed the museum to serve as “fiscal sponsor” of a Kickstarter campaign for a different museum without the approval of or disclosure to the Board.
  • Raicovich was co-editor of the April 2017 book called “Assuming Boycott,” which contains essays supportive of a movement that targets the State of Israel. She did not disclose her involvement in the book with the board, she paid a co-editor of the book with museum funds and placed the book for sale in the museum’s gift shop.
  • Raicovich showed immediate hostility to hosting the event before consulting with the board and, with Strauss, sought reasons why the board should not agree to the event.
  • Strauss told the board that the museum had a longstanding policy against hosting political events, which was not true. He then added this prohibition to the museum’s website after the event was already being considered by the board.
  • Strauss misrepresented the NYPD’s description of the amount of security that would be needed for the event when he reported it to the board.

Based on the finding of the investigation, the firm recommended that the board review and improve its policies and procedures in an effort to avoid similar distractions in the future so that the museum can focus on its mission and the community.

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