Akron Art Museum Director Mark Masuoka Resigns
Akron Art Museum director Mark Masuoka is leaving his post after a flurry of criticism from former employees and a former chair of the museum’s board of directors.
Allegations about Masuoka’s mismanagement of the century-old institution first came to light last month in the New York-based publication Art News. Former staffers described a toxic work environment marked by racial and gender biases from museum executives as well as intimidation against those who complained. In a statement earlier this month, former board chair Richard Rogers called for "the prompt resignation of the current management team and a fresh approach."
The art museum announced through a news release Tuesday that Masuoka had resigned and former museum board member Jon Fiume is stepping in as interim director as the search for a permanent replacement begins.
In the written announcement, board chair Drew Engles said, “In accepting Mark’s resignation, the Board agreed it was time for a change in leadership that represents an opportunity to create a new direction for the Museum as we build a new organizational culture for the future.”
Fiume served on the museum's board from 2005-2015, as well as current and past board posts at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, ArtsNow and Weathervane Playhouse. In the news release, he said, “The Akron Art Museum is a vital cultural resource and outlet for our community as well as a personal passion of mine. I am honored to work closely with the staff and Board and ensure a seamless transition to new leadership."
Tuesday evening, Benjamin Delson, an attorney for Mark Masuoka issued a response to the claims against his client:
"Mark denies the allegations you cite. He could not (and will not) discuss the details publicly, because they involve personnel matters at the Museum. But he denies ever having used racially-coded language, and he has spent his professional life standing against racism, sexism, and bullying of all kinds. This episode has been among the most painful in Mark’s life."
NOTE: This story was updated with the comments from Mark Masuoka's attorney.