Megan Lykins Reich has been named the new executive director at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, whose leadership role has been vacant for a year and a half. Reich had been interim executive director since mid-2020.
The museum’s last director, Jill Snyder, left following a controversy over a canceled Shaun Leonardo exhibition. (She is now a consultant and advising on a program for museum directors at the 2022 edition of Expo Chicago.) That Leonardo show, organized by independent curator John Chaich, featured works focused on police killings of Black and Latinx boys and men, including Tamir Rice, whose mother, Samaria Rice, claimed the artist did not have the right to represent her son’s image in his art and had not sought permission from her to do so. After local Black activists spoke out against the show, Snyder issued an apology and called off the exhibition, while Leonardo accused the museum of censorship.
“Now it is time to select a progressive and innovative leader for the next phase in our history who will carry forward this work with new passion,” Snyder wrote in a statement issued two weeks after that controversy.
Audra T. Jones, a co-president of the MoCA Cleveland board, praised Reich as being exactly that kind of leader. “She has been insistent that we examine our efforts to engage underserved audiences and artists, expand representation of historically marginalized people in our staff and board, and strengthen our internal processes towards equity,” Jones said in a statement.
Reich first joined the museum in 2004 as a curatorial intern, and has moved up in the ranks since then, serving as curatorial fellow, director of education, associate curator, and deputy director, among other roles. Since joining MoCA, she has curated 34 exhibitions there.
“I intend to work alongside our board and our staff to continue delivering on the unique and important mission of this contemporary art institution,” Reich said in a statement. “moCa’s work with artists and our community is incredibly rich with great potential, both for Cleveland and the world beyond.”
Correction, 1/19/22, 2:15 p.m.: A previous version of this article stated that Courtenay Finn co-organized the Leonardo show and an apology for it. She was chief curator at MoCA when that show happened, but she did not organize it.