The outlook for the financially troubled American Folk Art Museum in New York remains grim. Executive director Maria Ann Conelli has just announced her resignation after six years at the helm. In a letter posted on the museum’s website, she says: “I will be leaving the museum to return to academia for a position that enables me to keep the arts as a central part of my life.” She has taken a position at her alma mater but will remain at the museum until July. Conelli attended Columbia and NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, but it is not clear which university has hired her.
As reported by Bloomberg, in a January filing the museum said it had “missed $3.7 million in payments to a debt service fund connected to bonds issued to construct a new building,” and that it didn’t expect to make payments “for the foreseeable future.”
Under Conelli’s stewardship the museum has mounted a number of popular exhibitions, including two on Martín Ramírez, the first of which was among the most highly attended shows.
Last week, the museum’s planned exhibition for Venice, “Vision and Vernacular: Eight African American Artists in Venice,” featuring self-taught artists and graffiti muralists, was cancelled by exhibition sponsor Benetton. Building permits were said to be the issue but the museum’s shaky finances were considered by some observers to have played a large part.