Kate Fowle, the director of MoMA PS1, one of the county’s leading museums for contemporary art, said she will step down from her role after less than three years. Her last day will be July 15.
In an email sent to the museum’s staff on Friday afternoon that was reviewed by ARTnews, Fowle did not give a reason for her unexpected departure, saying only that she would continue to organize the institution’s highly anticipated exhibition of Daniel Lind-Ramos due to open in April 2023.
Fowle said that the museum’s interim leadership would consist of deputy director Jose Ortiz, director of curatorial affairs Ruba Katrib, and director of external affairs Molly Kurzius, along with the museum’s board chair Sarah Arison and MoMA director Glenn Lowry.
Located in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, MoMA PS1 is an affiliated institution with the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Prior to joining PS1 in 2019, Fowle had served as the chief curator of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow for six years, where she helped open its Rem Koolhaas–designed building in 2015, launched the Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art, and became known for an innovative program of exhibitions that included showings for artists like Louise Bourgeois, Olga Chernysheva, Urs Fischer, Rashid Johnson, Irina Korina, Robert Longo, Anri Sala, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.
Fowle took over the role of director at PS1 in September 2019, which had been left vacant for over a year after Klaus Biesenbach left to run the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. (He has since left that position.)
Fowle’s departure from PS1 is unexpected. A New York Times profile of her, published in April, touted her “priorities as the new leader of the Long Island City institution: to strengthen the connection with its neighbors in Western Queens and North Brooklyn, to make PS1 a hub of community activity through art, to lean into the museum’s progressive roots and to give the institution an identity distinct from MoMA’s.”
Just weeks ago, PS1 hosted a major gala, its first since the onset of the pandemic, at its home, a former school in Long Island City. The glitzy affair was attended by Mayor Eric Adams, collector and former MoMA PS1 board chair Agnes Gund, and artists Rashid Johnson and Deana Lawson.
Another recent departure from PS1 is Hannah Howe, director of development since February 2021, who left to become deputy chief development officer for individual giving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the message to staff, Fowle wrote, “I want you to know that I have deep respect and admiration for you all, and that I am incredibly proud of all the work we have achieved together. You are the dream team and I am forever in awe of the kindness, dedication, and care that you show to each other, to me, and to all the artists and their communities and partners that we work with. I very much look forward to seeing how our artist-centered and community-driven vision evolves.”
In a statement sent to ARTnews, Arison said, “Kate Fowle is a talented curator and director who has led MoMA PS1 through the intense challenges of the last three years to become a more resilient and financially stable institution. Kate has piloted innovative models of community engagement, diversified the uses of the building and its courtyard to connect more deeply with Queens and New York communities, and strengthened PS1’s commitment and role as an artist-centric institution. We all have so much admiration and respect for Kate—including her incredible work ethic and artistic vision. We are very grateful for everything she has contributed to PS1, and the work she has done to build a bright future for the institution. We wish Kate continued success in the next role she chooses.”