No “Art in the Streets” for Brooklyn Museum: New York Changes Mind About Street Art Show

We’ve just been forwarded an email sent by the Brooklyn Museum to a street artist in the “Art in the Streets” show, currently on view at the MOCA. The Brooklyn Museum was scheduled to be the next shop in the show’s tour, but that’s no more.

Read the letter from Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold Lehman below:

I am writing with the unfortunate news the Brooklyn Museum must withdraw as the second venue for “Art in the Streets.” I asked our curator, Sharon Matt Atkins, for your email address so that you might hear this news directly from me.

As I hope you know, we have all been tremendously enthusiastic about this exhibition from the very beginning, and we applaud LA MOCA for organizing such a groundbreaking project bringing the important history of graffiti and street art to a broad public. In Brooklyn, we saw it as an appropriate next exhibition for us after our Jean-Michel Basquiat and graffiti exhibitions in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

We regret that we are now in the position of withdrawing from this project. We have already and will continue to face severe reductions in financial support that require the Museum to make very tough decisions in light of the challenges facing us in the coming fiscal year. With no major funding in place, we cannot move ahead.

I know I speak for Sharon as well in expressing our regret that we will not be able to move ahead with presenting “Art in the Streets.” We have the utmost respect for your work, and I hope we will find other opportunities to collaborate in the future.

UPDATE: We just talked with someone intimately familiar with the show, and he said, “I think it could be a combination that the museum is afraid of the show and the negative press it could bring them. Why would New York not want this show? I don’t believe that someone would not pay for this exhibit.”

The show has received negative attention recently, notably from the N.Y. Daily News, which opined in an April editorial that “museum mavens will be sticking their thumbs in the eyes of every bodega owner and restaurant manager who struggles to keep his or her property graffiti-free, not to mention the eyes of all New Yorkers who cringe recalling the days of graffiti-covered subway cars.”


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