Former Queens Museum Director to Lead Leslie-Lohman Museum

Former Queens Museum Director to Lead Leslie-Lohman Museum


Laura Raicovich may have proved too radical for the Queens Museum, where she was politically outspoken during her three years as president and executive director there before she stepped down in 2018.

But that brazen activism makes her a good fit for the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, which is devoted to queer art. On Friday, Ms. Raicovich was named its interim director, replacing Gonzalo Casals who next week becomes New York City’s new Cultural Affairs Commissioner.

“We needed someone to hold down the fort, who could hit the ground running,” said Margaret Rose Vendryes, one of the board’s two presidents. “We feel very fortunate that someone of Laura’s caliber would become a part of our family.”

It was Mr. Casals who initially asked Ms. Raicovich if she would consider filling his role while the museum’s board searches for a new director. “I witnessed firsthand how she transformed Queens Museum into a dynamic, welcoming public space that touched the lives of diverse residents in every neighborhood in the borough,” said Mr. Casals, who is active in the civic life of Jackson Heights.

Asked whether she would like to be considered for the position on a permanent basis, Ms. Raicovich said she thought the institution should be led by someone from the L.G.B.T.Q. community.

“This is a way that I could contribute right now,” Ms. Raicovich said in a telephone interview, adding, “it’s a very special institution.”

At the Queens Museum, Ms. Raicovich, whose interim tenure at the Leslie-Lohman is effective immediately, clashed with the board over her handling of an event sponsored by the Israeli government. She is currently working on a book, tentatively titled “The Myth of Museums: Why Cultural Institutions Can’t Be Neutral In an Age of Protest,” to be published by Verso in 2021.

Despite this history of controversy, the Leslie-Lohman board said that Ms. Raicovich is the right person to lead its museum through this chapter. “I think it’s a good thing that she is visible, that her name is known in the museum world,” Ms. Vendryes said. “People will be watching.”



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