Peter Eleey, the chief curator of MoMA PS1 in New York, will step down from his post at the end of the year. Having joined the museum as a curator in 2010, he has held the institution’s top curatorial job since 2016.
“The many impacts of the pandemic—on the museum, on the city, and on all of us—have moved me to think about the next chapters in my work and my life, and I have decided to step down as Chief Curator at the end of the year,” Eleey wrote in an emailed letter to PS1 staff that was sent to ARTnews.
In his email, Eleey said he would continue to work on solo presentations for Deana Lawson and Gregg Bordowitz. Neither exhibition has been dated yet.
“I want to thank Peter Eleey for his decade of strong contributions to PS1,” Kate Fowle, PS1’s director, wrote in an email to PS1’s staff. “During his tenure, he has brought to life more than 40 exhibitions, many of which are an indelible part of our institutional history.”
Those curatorial credits include solo shows for artists such as Simon Denny, James Lee Byars, Ian Cheng, Henry Taylor, and more, as well as the recent group show “Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011” (co-organized with Ruba Katrib), which focused on how art-making in Iraq and beyond was impacted by U.S. intervention in the region. Prior to working at PS1, Eleey had been a curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
In 2018, Eleey was the subject of a discrimination complaint from Nikki Columbus, who claimed that he had offered her the role of curator of performance art in 2017, only to see the position allegedly taken away from her after she told Eleey that she had recently had a baby. In 2019, Columbus settled the claim for an undisclosed sum.
Eleey’s departure comes as PS1, like many other U.S. institutions, experiences turmoil resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. In April, facing what Fowle called the “most serious financial crisis” at the museum ever, the museum furloughed more than 70 percent of its workforce. A PS1 representative said that the “majority” of the 47 furloughed workers were brought back, though 18 were laid off. PS1 reopened to the public earlier this month.