Tom Finkelpearl to Head Department of Cultural Affairs


Three months into his administration, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has named Queens Museum president and executive director Tom Finkelpearl to head the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, where he will oversee a budget of $156 million. He succeeds Kate D. Levin, who served from 2002 to 2013 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His appointment will be announced today at the Queens Museum.

Finkelpearl, 58, has been at the Queens Museum for 12 years and oversaw a $68-million expansion by London’s Grimshaw Architects that doubled the museum’s size. Current exhibitions at the museum are emblematic of Finkelpearl’s emphasis on the multicultural: they focus on L.A.-based performance art group Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD); Mexican artist Pedro Reyes and his “People’s United Nations”; and 20th-century Indian modernism.

From 1990 to 1996, Finkelpearl headed the city’s Percent for Art program, which is managed by the Department of Cultural Affairs and requires that one percent of the budget for city-funded construction go to public artwork. He was executive director of programs at Maine’s Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture from ’96 to ’99, after which he served as deputy director at Long Island City’s P.S.1, from 1999 to 2002.