El Museo del Barrio in New York.

El Museo del Barrio Executive Accused of Intimidating Staff Members

Following the recent appointment of Patrick Charpenel as executive director, El Museo del Barrio in New York is facing discord among its top executives. After Berta Colón, the deputy director of institutional advancement, was fired on May 19 for “performance reasons,” she wrote a letter to the board of trustees in which she disputed her dismissal and accused a fellow staff member of intimidation, Colin Moynihan of the New York Times reports.

In the letter, Colón claims that deputy executive director Carlos Gálvez “created an environment that promotes distrust, fear of retaliation and isolation.” Both Gálvez and Colón had been serving as codirectors of the institution since former executive director Jorge Daniel Veneciano announced that he was stepping down in August 2016.

“Staff is threatened with the possibility of being fired, they are pitted against each other,” Colón wrote. She also alleged that Gálvez had discussed the candidates being interviewed for the executive director position with museum employees and pressured them to support the ones he favored.

The museum declined to comment on the matter. Whether the institution is investigating Colón’s claims and whether Gálvez or Charpenel were involved in making the decision to fire her is unclear at this time.

According to two sources close to the museum, Charpenel is still waiting for the United States government to approve the paperwork that will allow him to work in the country. Once he arrives at the museum, he will have to deal with backlash from the letter, as well as the challenges of stabilizing a financially struggling institution that hasn’t been able to keep an executive director since Julián Zugazagoitia left in 2010.