Though it’s been only four months since he first took up the job, Jorge Daniel Veneciano is stepping down from his post as director of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York. He was appointed in September of last year, and started work in October.
“Current political events compel me to turn my attention to pressing needs in the cultural sector,” said Veneciano in a statement earlier today, which noted that “he will shift his focus to writing and consulting at the intersection of cultural policy, immigrant rights, and civic engagement.” The sudden change is in response to the election of Donald Trump, who will be sworn in as president on January 2, and has previously made incendiary comments about immigrants and crime.
in an email to artnet News, Veneciano writes:
“The world was a different place in October when I started this position. The fate of humanism and democracy are now at risk. As a cultural professional and a Latin American immigrant, I have a personal stake in taking a broad view of what I may contribute to fostering civility in these less than civil times. When I worked for the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department I partnered immigrant rights and arts organizations to do the work of cultural advocacy. At the Paul Robeson Galleries, the Sheldon Museum, and El Museo I pursued similar and broader advocacy. I feel compelled to return to the work of fostering cultural democracy on the widest registers possible.”
Prior to joining MAD, Veneciano spent two years at the helm of New York’s El Museo del Barrio, dedicated to Caribbean and Latin American arts and culture.
Currently, Veneciano is writing a book about cultural institutions’ social relevance and their ability to help in “securing civility in uncivil times.”
With Veneciano’s last day on the job being January 31, board chair Michele Cohen is in line to serve as interim director. “Though we are sorry to see him go, we understand and respect his decision,” she said in a statement.
The museum has seen an unusual amount of turnover in the top post since January 2013, when Holly Hotchner, its longtime director, announced she would be stepping down. Glenn Adamson, her successor, held the job for just two and a half years, from September 2013 to March 2016.
Veneciano will help consult with the museum as it searches, yet again, for a new leader.
“I remain a great admirer of the Museum of Arts and Design,” Veneciano added. “I am confident that it will be in good hands going forward.”
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