A letter signed "The Curatorial Department" of the Guggenheim Museum was sent Monday to the institution's leadership, demanding immediate, wholesale changes to what it described as "an inequitable work environment that enables racism, white supremacy, and other discriminatory practices."
"We write to express collective concern regarding our institution, which is in urgent need of reform," said the letter addressed to Richard Armstrong, the museum's director; Elizabeth Duggal, the senior deputy director and chief operating officer; Sarah G. Austrian, the general counsel; and Nancy Spector, the museum's artistic director and chief curator.
The letter comes as cultural institutions are being called to account for what critics describe as their role in perpetuating systemic racism. Amid protests prompted by the killing of George Floyd, museums are looking more seriously at issues of equity in their hiring, governance, exhibitions and acquisitions.
The letter said it was not signed with individual names because the curators feared retaliation.
In a statement, Armstrong confirmed receipt of the letter from the curators "outlining requests to change procedures to ensure more collective, transparent and accountable decision-making processes in the department."
"Our curatorial staff is essential to the Guggenheim and we are listening," he said in the statement. "Their effort to make change is an opportunity for us to engage in a beneficial dialogue to become a more diverse, equitable and welcoming organization for all."
Armstrong began that dialogue with some of the museum's 22 curators on Monday in Zoom calls after receiving the letter, a museum spokeswoman confirmed. The spokeswoman, Sarah Eaton, also confirmed that the chief curator, Spector, has decided to take a three-month sabbatical beginning July 1, though there was...