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MoMA Shuts Down as 500+ Protesters Infiltrate Atrium to Support 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 of protesters began a sit-in at the 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 the galleries to the general public at approximately 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 had been unveiled, protesters began chanting. They were followed by a group of people reading a passage taken from an imitation pamphlet directed at visitors. The passage elaborated on the basis of protest and the decision of criticizing the museum in particular.

A 27-yearold illustrator and printer from Queens, who asked to remain unnamed and participated in this sit-in, said HyperallergicThey learned about the protest through social media. “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.”

MoMA security closed all galleries in less than 15 minutes. They began turning people away who wanted to get in and allowed visitors to leave. Press members were allowed in the building around 4:45pm. 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/Hyperallergic)

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). According to the confirmation by HyperallergyOn the scene

Both actions took place at the same time as an open letterMore than 100 NYC cultural workers including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MoMA), the Brooklyn Museum and the Studio Museum signed a protest letter. “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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