Met Museum Staff Urges Leaders to Address Israel’s Attacks on Gaza

Workers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are calling on the museum’s leadership to address the widespread destruction of Gaza’s cultural heritage sites.

Today, March 11, a group of 158 museum staff, fellows, and volunteers calling themselves Met Workers For Palestine delivered an open letter to the institution’s Director and Chief Executive Officer Max Hollein urging him to publicly call for a ceasefire and make a statement about Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Palestinian communities and cultural heritage.

In addition to the more than 30,228 Palestinians killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza since Hamas’s October 7 attacks, the group letter calls attention to over 200 sites of cultural significance that have also been decimated, encompassing museums, religious centers, and public spaces

The missive echoes recent letters from staff at other New York institutions, including the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. Met workers pointed out that the museum has a history of speaking out on the necessity of protecting cultural heritage sites, such as in 2001, when the Taliban planned to destroy Afghanistan’s Buddhist Bamiyan Statues; in 2020, when former President Donald Trump threatened to destroy Iranian sites of cultural significance; and in 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Museum workers are also requesting that The Met take steps to better showcase its Palestinian art collection — much of which is not on view — as well as protect museum employees who have signed onto the letter from potential retaliation.

Andrew Smith, a security officer at the museum who worked on the letter, told Hyperallergic that many of his colleagues at The Met are “spooked” given the numerous recent cases of institutional silencing and suppression in the art world, specifically surrounding voices supporting Palestine.

While Hollein has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s inquiry, he has provided an initial response to workers, who told Hyperallergic that he “has not made any firm commitments.”

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