MOCA Board of Trustees Deny Support to North Miami's Museum Director Candidate

In this week's art feature, New Times interviewed Babacar M'Bow who has been appointed the new director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami by city officials.

MOCA is currently in the middle of a tug of war between the museum board and the city. The squabble revolves around who controls the museum's collection of 600 works by greats such as Louise Nevelson and Jose Bedia and whether those works will be relocated to Miami Beach's Bass Museum of Art.

See also: At MOCA North Miami, a Battle Over Race

The legal wrangling between MOCA's Board and the City of North Miami is currently under the charge of Circuit Court Judge Norma S. Lindsey, who has sent both parties to mediation.

But as the story went live online, a museum spokesperson contacted New Times to inform that its current board of trustees no longer considers M'Bow a candidate to run the museum, further ratcheting up the ongoing conflict between opposing factions.

"The Board of Trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art has dismissed the City of North Miami's nomination for a new museum director," says Aaron Gordon, who has been hired to handle public relations for the embattled institution. "The Board provided the candidate, Mr. Babacar M'Bow, with a two-week window to participate in a standard background check, which is a required step in evaluating the credentials of candidates for the position. Despite multiple notifications, Mr. M'Bow did not comply with the background check and is therefore no longer under consideration for the position. The Board is disappointed that Mr. M'Bow chose not to take part in the evaluation process. Alex Gartenfeld continues to serve in his dual position as Interim Director and Chief Curator with the full support of the Board," adds Gordon.

M'Bow's response: "This is a kind of a last grasp of a dying narrative. I have never been interviewed by the Board. I have received a request by a lawyer for authorization to check my credit record to which I responded by asking the sender who s/he was. If the Board really wanted to engage this process, it could have just asked the city to provide the information (background, medical, drug and other tests) I submitted myself to prior to joining the city staff. Furthermore, how can a Board that is leaving our city still wants to retain the power to approve who the city is hiring?"

M'Bow says the public can expect the proceedings to become increasingly acrimonious as the judge approaches a final decision.

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