US POLITICS

Art Museums Close Their Doors To Protest Trump’s Inauguration

The "J20 Art Strike" is aiming to "combat the normalization of Trumpism"

US POLITICS
REUTERS
Jan 19, 2017 at 5:57 PM ET

Several art galleries and museums in New York and beyond are shutting their doors on Friday in an act of protest against the inauguration of Donald Trump. The strike is meant to be an act of solidarity with protest marches taking place nationwide against the divisive president-elect.

The “J20 Art Strike” includes dozens of artists, critics, and art establishments calling on galleries, theaters, museums, and non-profits to close for the day in an act of silent noncompliance. “We consider Art Strike to be one tactic among others to combat the normalization of Trumpism — a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule,” a letter on the movement’s website reads.

David Strauss, deputy director at the Queens Museum, which will close its galleries in solidarity with the protest and host an afternoon of creating protest materials for other marches and demonstrations, explained why his museum was taking part. “The idea really is that the museum is not only based in a certain community, but a certain set of values. And our values system really hasn’t been reflected in the rhetoric of the president-elect,” he told Vocativ Thursday. “And we want the community that we serve to know that we’re here…and we’re a resource for them.”

Gallerists joining the protest said they wanted to stand with groups fearful of what a Trump presidency may mean for the future of the United States. “We are a gallery of many women, a gallery of many people who are non-white, we are a gallery of conscientious people,” Alissa Friedman, partner and director of gallery Salon 94 in the Lower East Side, said, as quoted by DNAInfo New York. “It’s almost like a quiet kind of symbolic gesture, but it’s something we felt was important to stand in solidarity with.”

Nicholas Mirzoeff, a professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University, said he’s participating because he believes Trump’s government cannot simply be accepted as status quo. “I am supporting J20 to mark my sense that this regime cannot be accepted as just another government. My grandparents were refugees and both my father and myself have been immigrants — he into Britain, myself into the United States,” he said in an interview with The Massing Lab. ” A world where refugees and immigrants are demonized has no place for my family so this is personal.”

Many museums have no plans to close. In addition to all Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim, both located in New York, will remain open, as will a host of other institutions around the country — bur some are still joining in the spirit of the protest. “We believe that museums can and should be a place of reflection and inspiration for all people, and we hope that our visitors will find welcome in a place where they can feel included in a great common cause—art and its transformative effects,” the Guggenheim said in a statement.

Other museums, including the Whitney, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., are offering free admission on Inauguration Day.

Trump’s transition team has reportedly discussed making major cuts to the federal bureaucracy, including several programs that support the arts. The Hill reported Thursday that his administration is planning on axing the National Endowment for the Arts, and privatizing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, among other changes.