Amid controversies related to the Detroit Institute of Arts’s leadership, seven members of the museum’s board have resigned from their posts. According to the Art Newspaper, the members’ departure follows the leaking of a recording of a board meeting from November in which lawyers hired to investigate the conduct of DIA director Salvador Salort-Pons revealed the ways his behavior had allegedly contributed to a hostile work culture at the institution.
The investigators reportedly detailed Salort-Pons’s “lack of facility with race-related issues,” instances of insensitivity with respect to gender on the part of the director, and fear of retaliation on the part of employees.
In a statement shared with ARTnews, DIA board chair Eugene A. Gargaro, Jr. said that since the release of that confidential recording, “I have engaged in constructive and candid discussions to develop a consensus in a fair and reasoned manner to identify and recommend solutions to the serious issues the board is currently addressing, while the board’s executive committee meets regularly.”
The statement goes on to say that, at an executive committee meeting on March 26, “a consensus favored continuing the actions taken by the board late last year, including frequent monitoring and reporting on progress to the executive committee and the board. Some members disagreed and decided to resign from the board.”
Those who chose to resign are Anne Fredericks, Mary Ann Gorlin, Julie Rothstein, Suzanne Shank, Carol Walters, and Celeste Watkins-Hayes. The emeritus director, Marc Schwartz, also resigned, and Christine Sitek has chosen to “leave the board because of professional obligations,” according to the statement.
A separate inquiry into Salort-Pons last year focused on a complaint that alleged the director had acted unethically in displaying works owned by his family members at the museum. That investigation found no evidence of misconduct on the part of Salort-Pons or Gargaro, who was named in a second version of the initial complaint.