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MoMA Shuts As 500+ Protesters Infiltrate Atrium Supporting Palestine

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The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Manhattan unexpectedly closed its galleries to the public at around 3:45pm Saturday, February 10, after over 500 pro-Palestinian protesters took over the building’s second-floor atrium for a massive demonstration. By some organizers’ estimates, more than 800 activists filled the museum.

The demonstration was co-organized by a number of advocacy groups and activists. It included a variety tactics. Starting at 3:30pm, organizers split up to distribute over 1,000 custom-printed imitation MoMA pamphlets calling out five museum trustees — Leon Black, Larry Fink, Paula Crown, Marie-Josée Kravis, and Ronald S. Lauder — and their alleged financial and corporate investments into Israeli military weaponry and surveillance technology, real estate, and foreign support groups. Soon after, hundreds began a sit in atrium.

A group of demonstrators unveiled a banner from the second floor overlooking the museum’s lobby and rear exit that read “MoMA Trustees Fund Genocide, Apartheid, and Settler Colonialism”Viewable by people on the first-floor.

The organizers called out MoMA trustees’ alleged financial ties to financial and corporate investments in Israeli military efforts.
The museum closed to the public its galleries at 3:45pm.

From the third and fifth floors, additional banners — calling for an immediate ceasefire, a free Palestine, and for all prisons to be emptied — were launched from the viewing ledges, suspended alongside artist Carolina Caycedo’s current display of fishing net sculptures.

“Free, free Palestine,”After the signs were revealed, protesters chanted. A group then read a passage of the fake pamphlet that was addressed to the visitors and explained the basis of the protest as well as the decision to criticize a specific museum.

A 27-year old illustrator and printmaker who is from Queens and participated in the sit-in but asked to remain anonymous, told HyperallergySocial media was the first place they heard about the protest. “Our taxes are already going to genocide,”They said. “The best thing that can come from this is people canceling their memberships to MoMA and boycotting until the museum divests from board members who fund genocide.”

“The museum should be a place for us New Yorkers, and a majority of us aren’t on board with funding genocide,”The artist continued. “Cancel your museum memberships, don’t pay for the $30 ticket.”

In less than 15 seconds, MoMA security had closed the galleries and began turning away visitors who wanted to enter. Visitors were then allowed to leave. Around 4:45pm, members of the media were allowed to enter the building. Around 5pm, organizers started to trickle out and continue the protest outside. The march continued down Midtown Manhattan.

Protesters wave signs to show their solidarity with Palestine before the Brooklyn Museum. (photo Maya Pontone/Hyperallergy)

Today’s action at MoMA coincided with another demonstration that drew over 300 people outside the Brooklyn Museum, organized by Within Our Lifetime Palestine (WOL Palestine). As confirmed by HyperallergicOn the scene

Both actions took place at the same time as an open letterSigned by more than 100 NYC cultural workers, including from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, protesting the “the disgraceful silence of our institutions as Israel commits genocide in Gaza.”

“While the museums and cultural institutions of our city claim to hold commitments to justice, social action, and equity, their silence has rendered them complicit in the killing of over 27,000 people in Palestine, with thousands more trapped under rubble from bombings since October 7, 2023,”The letter reads:

MoMA has not yet replied to Hyperallergic‘s request for comment.

At MoMA, banners were launched from the viewing ledges, suspended alongside artist Carolina Caycedo’s current display of fishing net sculptures.

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