Executive Director Babacar M'Bow Terminated From MOCA

Update: Local 10 reported today that Babacar M'Bow has officially been terminated from his position as executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. "Based on the finding of the City's investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against you, as well as your lack of appropriate supervision over your subordinate employees, I lack confidence in your ability to continue to serve as a spokesperson and chief advocate for the Museum," interim city manager Arthur Sorey III said in a letter.

Babacar M'Bow has been suspended from his duties as executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami amid sexual harassment claims.

Local 10 reported that the allegations are coming from MOCA employees. Speaking with reporter Michael Seiden over the phone, M'Bow denies the claims, saying, "I have never been presented with anything about sexual harassment. That doesn't reflect my morals." 

However, according to interim City Manager Arthuer Sorey, who Local 10 also spoke with, M'Bow is being investigated for "workplace misconduct." 

"We're trying to foster a professional environment, and the behavior (that was) happening was not in a professional manner," said Sorey.

According to a city memorandum sent to M'Bow from the office of Sorey, the explanation is as follows: "You are being placed on administrative leave effective immediately. A complaint has been filed against you. An investigation of this complaint will be conducted. You are not permitted to come to MOCA, City Hall, or any city events until this investigation is concluded. Comply with the above directed." 

MOCA's assistant director, Alan Waufle, was also placed on paid administrative leave after a complaint regarding "inappropriate gender language." 

M'Bow is currently traveling in Bogota, Colombia, with plans to return to South Florida on Saturday. Natasha Colebrook-Williams has been named interim director until further notice.

The suspension is another blow to the already staggering museum. Its biggest donors departed last year, taking most of the permanent collection with them to found the Institute of Contemporary Art in the Design District. One of the few significant cultural institutions in North Miami-Dade, it has served as a beacon for the immigrant, economically disadvantaged populations of the area.

When controversy arose over the museum's new director, M'Bow said in an interview with New Times, "A lawsuit is like a Burmese python; it always starts inoffensively, allowing you to feed while its sole purpose is to eat you. I hope all parties are conscious of the ultimate outcome — the swallowing of all of us. "

In that same interview, when asked why he was the right person to take over the role of director for the museum, M'Bow concluded, "The museum was sliding toward fossilization. Nothing new or groundbreaking really came out of MOCA the past seven years. I have a vision, the competency to conceptualize it, a plan to execute it.

"I love riddles. Here is one for your readers: Who do you know is leading when two people race around a tree and you have not witnessed the beginning? MOCA will provide the answer."

North Miami's chief of staff Natasha Colebrook-William has taken over as interim director.  
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Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer for Miami New Times. She nurtured her love of words at Boston College before moving back home to Miami and has been covering arts and culture in the Magic City since 2013.