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Activists projected the words “Open for Exploitation” on New York’s Guggenheim Museum on Tuesday night. Photo: The Illuminator.

Artist-Activists Light Up Guggenheim Façade with Pointed Messages Ahead of Reopening

Just after sunset on Tuesday night, a series of messages appeared projected on the pristine white eight-story façade of New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum courtesy of artist-activist collectives Artists for Workers (AFW) and the Illuminator, Hyperallergic reports. Slogans such as “Open for Exploitation,” “Seeking New Management,” and “Austerity Wages for Workers” glowed against the spiraling limestone walls in support of the Guggenheim’s unionized workers and of the employees of the institution’s Abu Dhabi outpost.

“This action seeks to connect the exploitation of workers at the Solomon R. Guggenheim with the experience of workers in other Guggenheim locations, like the one in Abu Dhabi,” an anonymous member of AFW said. “Our aim is to put pressure on the museum to understand these are not isolated instances but are related through modes of racial oppression and exploitation of workers. That’s why the museum needs to ratify a contract with the Guggenheim’s workers union as soon as possible.” AFW is an independent New York–based coalition of American and international artists who came together to support the city’s arts workers. The Illuminator is an NYC artist-activist collective whose goal is to “support . . . the ongoing struggle for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.”

The Guggenheim, which is to open to its members today and to the general public on October 3, has recently been rocked by allegations of entrenched racism, and by layoffs, which many institutions across the globe are contending with amid the enduring Covid-19 pandemic. The museum additionally is dealing with unresolved contract negotiations with its union, Local 30.

“We hope for a fair resolution that benefits our employees and the long-term financial health of the museum,” the Guggenheim said in a statement. “The Museum is listening to all our staff about our shared vision for the Museum going forward—a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible institution that can continue to operate for generations to come. We are committed to moving forward with a fair, respectful, and positive work environment for all Guggenheim employees. We recognize and appreciate the contributions of the talented staff who bring our mission to life every day.”

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