Jens Hoffmann. Photo: Robert Adler.

Jewish Museum Cuts Ties with Jens Hoffmann Following Sexual Harassment Investigation

The Jewish Museum in New York has terminated its working relationship with curator Jens Hoffmann, who was accused of sexual harassment by members of the institution’s staff in November, Andy Battaglia of Artnews reports. When the museum first learned of the allegations, Hoffmann was suspended from all the projects he had been working on. Following a two-week review of the allegations, the museum decided to end its affiliation with the curator.

On Monday, December 18, the museum issued the following statement: “The Jewish Museum has completed its review of the allegations regarding Jens Hoffmann and on December 17, 2017, terminated its relationship with him. As this is an internal and confidential matter, we will not be sharing further details.”

Hoffmann served as the deputy director for exhibitions and programs for the institution from 2012 to 2016. He stepped down from the role to pursue other projects and to work as coartistic director of the inaugural FRONT International: Cleveland Exhibition for Contemporary Art, but he left the post in November, several months before the opening of the event. Shortly after, the Jewish Museum announced that it was opening an investigation into his behavior, which sparked a number of other organizations to suspend Hoffmann from projects, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, and Kadist. He was terminated from his position as curator of the 2019 edition of the Honolulu Biennial as well. When Hoffmann first found out about the accusations, his lawyer, Lance Gotko, said, “He can firmly say he has never subjected anyone at the museum to sexual harassment.”

[Update:] In response to the Jewish Museum’s statement, Hoffmann issued the following to Artnews on Tuesday, December 19:

The practice of making exhibitions and working in museums is a collaborative and challenging exercise, one that I am passionate about and committed to. Over the years, I have encountered differences of opinion with colleagues in the process of curating at different institutions, which is a normal part of almost any large project in any context. However, I have never knowingly or purposefully behaved in a bullying, intimidating, harassing, or sexually inappropriate manner.

Still today, almost two weeks after a museum at which I was employed brought to my and the public’s attention that allegations of harassment have been made against me and that an investigation was under way, neither my lawyer nor I have been given any details about the nature of the allegations or who made them. We know that the allegations will not be disclosed, yet damage has been done and there is no other option for either party but to sever the relationship and go our separate ways.

I feel it is urgent at this particular moment to say that if I have ever personally or professionally made anybody uncomfortable or caused offense, I deeply and profusely apologize and regret it profoundly. Let it be clear: harassment, bullying, and intimidation are unacceptable, and I will take extra care in this regard in all my actions going forward.

I have long been committed to the public discourse regarding women’s rights, and have worked with many women artists over the years whose work specifically focuses on feminist subjects and bringing about an end to patriarchy. In particular I would like to mention my twenty-year-long working relationship with Martha Rosler, an iconic radical feminist artist, whose retrospective I was planning to curate in 2018 and with whom I have worked on more than a dozen exhibitions. I continue to stand one hundred percent behind my exhibitions, projects, and texts, as well as my conviction that we must end the systemic harassment and exploitation of women.