Collective Project

Occupy Museums is a direct action group within the OWS movement that seeks to reoccupy our art galleries, museums, and cultural institutions with the needs, values, histories, and art of the 99%. We love museums and we love art. Yet corporate and economic interests dictate what art is accessible, successful, and desirable.


On September 17th, 2011, we occupied Wall Street because the wealthiest 1% who control banks and big corporations broke trust with the American people. Motivated by a quest for power they robbed the national treasury, bought off our democracy, and made a mockery of the justice system. They left us little choice but to step out in the streets, find each other, and begin to imagine and building a new system.

We saw a direct connection between the corruption of high finance and the corruption of “high culture.” For example, MoMA shares board members with Sotheby’s auction house, where the value of art is synonymous with speculation. in 2012, Sotheby’s auction house locked out their unionized art handlers, refusing to pay them health care during a year of record profits. As art workers, we stand in solidarity with this struggle. Our labor will be truly valued only when we kick the addiction to obscene wealth that characterizes the American and international art world today.

So we began to occupy museums in New York City. We danced and chanted at their doors, and held open assemblies on museum steps to free up a space of dialogue and fearlessness for the 99%. More and more people joined us. Museums must be held accountable to the public. They help create our historical narratives and common symbols. They wield enormous power within our culture and over the entire art market. We occupy museums because museums have failed us. Like our government, which no longer represents the people, museums have sold out to the highest bidder.

Occupation of Satyagraha, New York City, Public Intervention, 2012

This struggle will not be easy. We are beginning to unmask a cultural system of inequality and exploitation which has ancient roots. But we will not wait for future generations to take up this struggle. We are working together to replace the exchange of capital with a creative exchange for and by the 99%. As we seek horizontal spaces for dialogue and collaboration, we begin to fill the hollowness of the capitalist art market with the warmth of meaning and the conviction that art is a necessity, not a luxury. –Occupy Museums collaborative mission text from 2011

The group was initiated from the Occupy Wall Street Arts and Culture working Group in Liberty Park by artist Noah Fischer’s manifesto of October 19, 2011. After the first action at Museum of Modern Art, it quickly became a working group including Jolanta Gora-Witta, Max Liboroirn, Maraya Lopez,  Blithe Riley, Maria Juliana Byck, Ben Laude, Tal Beery, Imani Brown, Jim Constanso and Arthur Polendo.


“The Big Trouble with Bloomberg at Momenta Art,  Art Fag City, October 2012

“The Occupy Effect on Contemporary Art” Translocal, Art Monthly September 2012

“Occupy Museums” in Temporary Art Review July 2012

“An Occupied Biennial” in Frieze/DE June 26, 2012

Issue No. 85 / March 2012 “Art History Revisited” 174

Let’s do it again, Comrades; let’s occupy the Museum! On Occupy Museums in New York, Gregory Sholette Issue No. 85 / March 2012 “Art History Revisited”

“Berlin Biennale May Adopt OWS Horizontal Power Structure” in Art Fag City, June 18, 2012

‘Occupy Wall Street joins protests against Frieze New York’By Christian Viveros-Fauné, THE ART NEWSPAPER, April 2012

‘Occupy Wall Street targets Frieze art fair in New York’ By David Ng, LA Times, April 2012

‘Frieze NY Targeted by Occupy Museums, ARTINFO, April 2012

‘Occupy Wall Street plans protest at art fair’, The, April 2012

“Occupy a Museum Near You!”, Joanna Warsza, Noah Fischer, Florian Malzacher, CAMERA AUSTRIA, March 2012.

“Occupy Naples Meets Occupy Museums” by Vanessa Saraceno, NY Arts Magazine, March 2012

“New York Updates: quelli di Occupy Museums sostengono robe folli e interessanti, ma fuori all’Armory (lo testimonia la nostra gallery fotografica) erano in quattro gatti. Ecco cosa ci hanno detto”, Artribune, Italy, March 2012

“Week In Review:  Is It Fair? The Anti-Armory”, Dounia Lomri – NY Arts Magazine, March 2012

“Occupy Museums Offered Free Art at Armory”, Hyperallergic, March 12, 2012

“If the Armory Show feels too 1%, try this Occupy art swap”, Brokelyn, March 2012

Occupy Museums Will Open Its Own ‘Art Market’ Outside the Armory Show”, Observer, March 2012

Occupy Museums Protesters Crowd MoMA, Hold General Assembly, in Huffington Post. January 17, 2012

“Occupy MoMA” by Barbara Pollack, Artnet, January 16, 2012

“Occupy Museums Targets MoMA Trustees,” by Brian Boucher, Art in America, January 16, 2012

“MoMA Security Confiscates Occupy Museums Banner, OM Poses Acquisition Terms, by Whitney Kimball, ArtFagCity, January 20, 2012 

Black Spot Documentary Interview with Occupy Museums members, February 2012

“Composer Philip Glass joins Occupy Lincoln Center protest” –

“Occupy Lincoln Center,” by Susan Bernofsky, The Daily Pen American, December 2, 2011

“Composer Philip Glass Joins Occupy Lincoln Center Protest,” by James C. Taylor, Los Angeles Times, December 2, 2011

“A Discussion on Facebook About Occupy Museums,” by Mira Schor and friends, A Year of Positive Thinking, October 19, 2011

 “Taking the Protests to the Art World,” by Melena Ryzik, New York Times, October 20, 2011

 “Why I Support Occupy Museums and Why You Should Too,” by Ben Davis, Artinfo, October 26, 2011

“The Deal with Occupy Museums” by paddy Johnson, ArtFagCity, October 24, 2011