An independent investigation ordered by the board of the Queens Museum in New York has found that former director Laura Raicovich and former deputy director David Strauss “misled the board, and otherwise failed to comport themselves with the standards consistent with their positions.” The formal inquiry was launched after the institution came under fire for canceling, and then reinstating, an event sponsored by the Israeli government.
Reviewed by Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times, the report says that Raicovich and Strauss exhibited “poor judgment” and “immediate hostility to hosting the event”the commemoration of the United Nations vote to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, which took place at the museum in 1947. Yet, it was the broader pattern of behavior revealed by the investigation that prompted the board to ask for both executives to resign.
In response to the findings of the museum’s report, which was carried out pro bono by the Katten Muchin Rosenman legal team, Raicovich said that her concerns were related to security and the scheduled appearance of Vice President Mike Pence. However, the report also states that Raicovich did not disclose her involvement with the 2017 book Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production. The work includes essays that are supportive of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), which was launched in 2005 in order to pressure Israel into recognizing Palestinians’ fundamental rights.
Raicovich told Pogrebin that she was not forced to end her directorship of the Queens Museum. Her decision to depart was “the culmination of all of these various things that happened along the way.” Raicovich stepped down from her position on January 26, citing political differences with the board. Her departure prompted other leading cultural figures to voice their support and to urge other leaders in the arts to become more politically engaged. Strauss’s employment was terminated.