El Museo del Barrio Director Resigns


Margarita Aguilar, director of New York’s El Museo del Barrio, has resigned her directorship after less than two years in the position. Aguilar’s departure was confirmed Friday by artist Tony Bechara, the chairman of El Museo’s board and reported in the New York Times.

Before her short tenure as director, Aguilar was a curator at El Museo del Barrio from 1998-2006. She left in 2006 to serve as vice president and specialist in Latin American Art at Christie’s. After the departure of El Museo del Barrio director Julián Zugazagoitia in 2010, Margarita Aguilar rejoined the museum as its director in August of 2011. Aguilar will be succeeded by Gonzalo Casals as deputy executive director until a permanent replacement can be found.

El Museo del Barrio, dedicated to Latin American art, was founded in 1969. The museum’s collection contains over 8,500 objects ranging from Mexican masks to textiles from Chile. After its renovation in 2008, the museum has continuously faced a worsening financial situation. With revenues in fundraising and attendance in startling decline, the museum has implemented many series of lay-offs and budget cuts. As of last month, El Museo del Barrio decreased its hours of operation from six to four days a week, laid off 8 of its 41-person staff, and required remaining staff members to take furloughs for the next 2 months.

When asked if Aguilar’s departure was due to the museum’s financial situation, Casals declined to comment directly, telling the Times, “Like every other cultural institution, our revenues are down.” Bechara maintains that the museum’s budget will be balanced by July 1. 

Photo Steven Greaves, courtesy of El Museo del Barrio.