Gonzalo Casals, the head of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, has been tapped as commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, effective Monday, April 13. He succeeds Tom Finkelpearl, who stepped down following criticism over the department’s rush to commission more public monuments of women, people of color, and previously overlooked historical figures.

“It is an incredible privilege to have led the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art for the past three years and a highlight of my career to have been part of its unique role for the arts and queer communities,” said Casals. “I am proud to be stepping down at a time when the museum is set up for success, and I am confident that, with the board of trustees and the experienced staff in place, the museum will continue to thrive.”

During his tenure at the institution, Leslie-Lohman went through a rebranding—it dropped “gay and lesbian” from its name, expanded its board of trustees, launched a $7 million capital campaign, broadened its programming, and saw a rise in attendance. Stamatina Gregory, whom Casals appointed as the museum’s first director of curatorial programs, will take over his responsibilities until an interim executive director is hired. 

Commenting on his new position, Casals, an immigrant from Argentina who identifies as queer, told the New York Times: “I look forward to continuing to further the work that the agency has been doing. Opening up opportunities in the sector for folks like me—immigrant communities, queer communities, Latinx communities.”

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