Brooklyn Museum Curator Weighs in on NYC’s “Transformative” $50 Million Gift

"While the word transformative is often overused, this support from the city is just that," Senior Curator Catherine Morris told Observer.

Exterior of the Brooklyn Museum, 2018. Courtesy Brooklyn Museum. Photo by Jonathan Dorado

On Monday, outgoing Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs will fork over $50 million to the Brooklyn Museum, marking the culmination of museum director Anne Pasternak’s efforts to solicit a large influx of capital to enhance the cultural institution. According to Pasternak, the funds will be used for a number of different projects within the museum: a permanent gallery dedicated to Brooklyn’s history will be added, and the galleries for Indigenous, American and European arts will all get newly-fabricated climate control systems and swanky new furnishings. On top of this, gallery installation of fresh work from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection is also on the table.

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“While the word transformative is often overused, this support from the city is just that,” Catherine Morris, the Brooklyn Museum’s Sackler Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, told Observer on Tuesday. “This grant will give us the chance to present our collections in entirely new ways and in updated gallery spaces that truly reflect the trailblazing and contemporary stories we aim to tell through art.” Overall, the gift is also planned to be implemented as a means to reduce the museum’s climate impact, as well as to develop new digital technologies to engage audiences; among other things.

At the height of the pandemic, the Brooklyn Museum partnered with Christie’s for an auction of 12 works of art from the museum’s collection, an act of deaccessioning that prompted criticism from certain commentators. However, it’s a move that the Metropolitan Museum of Art also contemplated earlier this year, illustrating just how much of a financial hit iconic New York institutions took during coronavirus-induced shutdowns.

“The Brooklyn Museum is both a community anchor and an encyclopedic museum that does an amazing job of amplifying the voices of diverse artists from across the ages and bringing them into conversation with contemporary audiences,” Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals added in a statement.

Brooklyn Museum Curator Weighs in on NYC’s “Transformative” $50 Million Gift